You’ve heard of the week in review?
This is our week in reverse.
Florida Atlantic hires Lane Kiffin.
Monday morning, 10 a.m. PTT (Pacific Twitter Time): Multiple outlets report Lane Kiffin has accepted an offer to become head coach at Florida Atlantic. Let’s hope Lane remembers the “A” and doesn’t just say F-U to everyone who said this wouldn’t happen. It’s not a pirate program but closer to Davy Jones’ locker than any former Oakland Raiders head coach would want to get. ESPN was the first to report the news while Alabama Coach Nick Saban was the first to do a cheerleader cartwheel across his office in Tuscaloosa. The only other man more thrilled is hired-gun Alabama offensive “analyst” Steve Sarkisian, who hung up on his legal team suing USC for wrongful termination and started moving his offensive coordinator boxes into Kiffin’s office. This is a win-win-win for Kiffin, Saban, Sark and maybe Florida Atlantic, a Conference USA program taking a chance on a coach fired by the NFL, Tennessee and USC before the age of 40. Kiffin goes from the scowl (Saban) to the Owls, where he attempts to do orchestrate a Heimlich Maneuver on a head-coaching career that ended in the passenger-only loading zone at LAX. Does Kiffin, still only 41, deserve this chance? Yes, but not at a name-brand school where he can do any immediate global harm. So this is perfect. Interestingly, Kiffin’s career arc is going in reverse. FAU is where he should have started as a rising hot-shot off Pete Carroll’s staff at USC. Instead, Al Davis, always thinking he was smarter than everyone, did a dumb thing by naming Kiffin his child-king coach of the Raiders. It’s taken everyone a decade to recover but now Kiffin gets to start over with a clean slate, Everyone deserves a fourth chance in life, even a son of Fresno State and Monte Kiffin. Lane gets to prove in a retirement community, Boca Raton, which literally means “Rat’s Mouth,” that he’s old enough now to command Tuesday Night Bingo. Let’s hope he’s learned something under the tutelage of Saban even though it seems Kiffin eventually wears out everyone around him. Florida Atlanta could have done a lot worse, and maybe Lane Kiffin could have done a lot better, but this is just the way it all turned out. For now, we’ll hold off on “happily.”
–Sunday, 10:47 a.m. Pacific: South Florida does NOT hire Lane Kiffin to replace Willie Taggart.
Meanwhile, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama head coach Nick Saban threw his morning Joe so far across the room he was called for intentional coffee grounding. Saban has worked hard to politically praise Kiffin as tries to push his offensive coordinator to somebody else’s payroll. At what point does Kiffin’s inability to get hired as a head coach start to irritate Saban and start to interfere with Alabama’s focus on becoming college football’s dynasty for the ages? Oh, that time has come? This distraction might be Washington’s only chance to beat the Crimson Tide in the Peach Bowl.
–Saturday night: Lamar Jackson wins the Heisman Trophy.
Congratulations to Louisville’s fantastic sliver of a sophomore quarterback. Forget that he lost his last two games entering Saturday night’s ceremonies. Jackson may not have been the most worthy winner every year, but he was a worthy winner THIS year. The overwhelming body of his 51 touchdowns and electric play could not be ignored–not to mention no one stepped up to challenge him in the final weeks.
“Oh snap,” an emotional Jackson said as he accepted the Heisman live on ESPN.
He said of that instead of cursing, which is what opposing defenses did every time Lamar took a snap.
Jackson won in a relative landslide with 2,144 points. It was a breakaway run ahead of second place finisher Deshaun Watson of Clemson. Baker Mayfield finished third, followed by Dede Westbrook and Jabrill Peppers.
Rankman’s Heisman ballot: Jackson, Watson, Christian McCaffrey.
No one had a better season in the history of college football than Stanford’s McCaffrey did last year. And he might have won the Heisman had final votes been taken after his virtuoso Rose Bowl performance against Iowa.
But he didn’t because it wasn’t. The gap between second and third this year was huge, so my voting McCaffrey third was not a protest vote. He fits legitimately in a pool of everyone who finished behind Watson. Oh, by the way, McCaffrey led the nation in all-purpose yards this year–to finish ninth in the final Heisman tally.
It’s not wise to conflate Heisman winners and different years, though, it just doesn’t work. Don’t try to make sense of winning and stardom, either.
Incredibly, no Manning has ever won a Heisman. Archie finished third in 1970, matched by son Eli’s third place in 2003 behind winner Jason White of Oklahoma. In 1997, at least the way the story is told in Tennessee, Michigan’s Charles Woodson stole the trophy from Peyton.
Winning the Heisman is combinations of good play, good luck and good timing.
What game was Brent Musburger announcing on the final Saturday before ballots are due? Musburger, undoubtedly, had an influence on the 1997 outcome with his call of Woodson’s all-purpose performance against Ohio State.
Who is ESPN and CBS pumping, on a nightly basis, for the trophy?
Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson set the stage for Derrick Henry last year with their CBS call of Alabama’s win over Louisiana State in prime time.
Earlier in the day, McCaffrey THREW for a touchdown pass at Colorado in a game that started at 10 a.m. on the West Coast on the viewership-challenged Pac 12 Network.
McCaffrey never had a chance.
A Heisman is what it is, when it is. John Elway never won, Steve Young finished second behind Mike Rozier in 1983. Senior (citizen) Chris Weinke, in 2000, beat out some scrub named Drew Brees.
Paul Hornung won in 1956, on a losing Notre Dame team. He tossed three touchdown passes that year against only 13 interceptions. Jim Brown of Syracuse finished fifth.
Arichie (Manning) couldn’t win once, but Archie (Griffin) won twice.
See how this works? Gino Torretta beat out Marshall Faulk in 1992. One guy played quarterback for Miami; the other toiled for San Diego State.
Don’t blame Eric Crouch winning in 2001 for Toby Gerhart for losing in 2009.
A Heisman is like a snowflake—every one is different.
So, again, congratulations to Lamar Jackson—this was YOUR year.
–Army 21, Navy 17
How were you not supposed to cry at the end? Army snapped a 14-game losing streak against Navy with the help of a player named Edgar Allan Poe.
No more Decembers of pain for the Cadets, who last won in 2001.
Be gone Raven, be gone! “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary.”
The game also marked Verne Lundquist’s last college football broadcast for CBS. We’ve made fun of Verne over the years for his full-throated promotion of SEC football. But, hey, that’s what he got paid for. Lundquist just happened to work the SEC at the height of the conference’s glory. Lucky him. He did it with grace, professionalism and good humor.
Ok, but now we’re still stuck with Gary Danielson?
–Cincinnati does NOT hire Lane Kiffin to replace Tommy Tuberville
It hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, who went 6-7 in his only head-coaching shot after Jim Tressel was fired in 2011.
What possible connection does Fickell have to Cincinnati other than the fact it is Urban Meyer’s alma mater?
Oh, wait, that’s a great connection. Cincinnati AD Mike Bohn cited Fickell as a “model of integrity,” without ever mentioning Lane Kiffin by name.
–Houston does NOT hire Lane Kiffin to replace Tom Herman
Houston hired Major Applewhite, but at least Kiffin got an interview for this one, which apparently did not go that well.
We love the “Major” from his early 2000s days at Texas, when he was caught in a quarterback controversy with Phil Simms’ son. I always thought Applewhite should have been the guy, the same way Tom Brady should have never ceding playing time to Drew Henson at Michigan.
Applewhite, already on staff as Houston’s offensive coordinator, was a fine choice. It was also a slap to baby-faced Kiffin, who clearly hasn’t washed clean his petulant reputation. A Houston regent called a radio station to state he didn’t think Lane was a safe hire.
–Oregon does NOT hire Lane Kiffin to replace Mark Helfrich.
It hired Willie Taggart. I wasn’t sure about this move until I watched Taggart’s introductory weekday press conference live on the internet which, really, is sad when you think about it.
Taggart won me over with his tough-talk assessment of Oregon’s bleak situation. Some have criticized this as a middling hire for a school that has not gone outside the program for a head coach since 1976.
I think Taggart ticks a lot of boxes. He played for Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky, then coached under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.
Taggart then left to turn around two programs, first Western Kentucky and then South Florida. The key here is that his teams got better.
He went 2-10, 7-5, 7-5 at WKU and then 2-10, 4-8, 8-5 and 10-2 in four years at South Florida.
Taggart is a high-energy coach and his best quote from the press conference was: “I don’t get along with boring people.”
He doesn’t have to change Oregon’s offense much. His version of the spread offense will work nicely in Eugene.
More important, he vowed to scour the nation for a quality defensive coordinator, which meant immediately distancing himself from Brady Hoke.
“I want to stop people from scoring touchdowns,” Taggart said.
If Taggart can land former Texas Coach Charlie Strong, a superb defensive mind, Oregon should be able bounce back quickly from this year’s 4-8 season.
(Updated: Strong was hired Sunday to become Taggart’s replacement at South Florida)
Taggart needs to win now because, well, Phil Knight isn’t getting younger.
–Purdue does NOT hire Lane Kiffin…either.
It hired Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm. Athletic director Mike Bobinski cited Brohm’s “incredible upside.” He never cited anything about Kiffin.
Lane has been brilliant as Nick Saban’s play caller at Alabama, but now his only remaining shot is Florida Atlantic?
So much, so far, for Kiffin’s career being rehabilitated in Tuscaloosa. Can he find anyone to blame other than himself? Lane’s best bet now may be joining Ed Orgeron’s staff at LSU. Kiffin and Orgeron are close friends dating to their days at USC.