Lane Kiffin’s departure from Alabama was a controversial topic among Tide fans.
One week before the national championship game against Clemson, coach Nick Saban announced that Alabama and Kiffin were parting ways and that Steve Sarkisian would take over the offensive play-calling.
The Tide ended up falling to Clemson, 35-31, in Tampa, Fla. on Jan. 9.
Despite the Tide’s national title loss, Kiffin was able to make light of his exit Friday at Florida Atlantic’s groundbreaking for a new academic and athletic complex, according to Sun Sentinel’s Matthew DeFranks.
Here are his remarks as provided by DeFranks:
“I remembered a story that I just told earlier to a couple of people. And please make sure you don’t tell this story anywhere or put this online anywhere, which you’re going to do, so thanks a lot. I was really excited about this job so I begged them to hire me because (of) the area. I knew the great players around here. I knew that we could hire a great staff and win a lot of championships here. Nobody knows this story, including our athletic director (Patrick Chun), he doesn’t know it either.
“The president (John Kelly, who used to work at Clemson) said, after the interview, ‘We’re very impressed with you. We want to hire you. But I have to have a conversation with you and no one else can know this conversation. The conversation is this. I know Clemson’s really, really good, especially on offense, but here’s the problem. The playoffs are already set.’ He said ‘Alabama’s going to go beat Washington. I know we’re going to beat Ohio State because our athletic director is from there so we know they’re no good.’ He said to me ‘Here’s the deal. After you guys beat Washington and we crush Ohio State’ — Ohio State didn’t score that day, I don’t think. Did they? He said here’s the thing ‘In order for me to give you this job, you cannot coach the national championship game. I have to make sure that Clemson wins the game.’ That was very difficult. That shows you how much I believe in this place.
“My president is happy. Nick Saban is not.”