Florida Atlantic University has named Lane Kiffin head football coach.
Kiffin comes to FAU with extensive college and professional coaching experience and will accelerate development of the university’s ambitions to transform college football in South Florida while continuing the Owls’ football team’s success in the classroom.
FAU President John Kelly said Kiffin has coached at the highest level and brings to Boca Raton a winning mentality.
“Lane will change the face of college football here,” Kelly said. “Our players will respond to him, our recruitment drives will respond to him, and our fans will respond to him. FAU Stadium will be the home of college football in south Florida.”
Kiffin joins the FAU Owls after three seasons at the University of Alabama, where he served as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award in 2014, which is given to the country’s best assistant coach.
In 2015, Kiffin oversaw development of quarterback Jake Coker, who finished his career 14-0 as a starter at Alabama and led the nation in completion percentage over the final 10 games of the season at 72.2 percent. Coker threw for 3,110 yards with 21 touchdowns, which ranks as the second-most passing yards in Alabama school history. On the ground, Kiffin fed Heisman Trophy running back Derrick Henry the ball a school- and SEC-record 395 times for a record 2,219 yards and 23 touchdowns. Henry's 2,219 yards was also the fifth-most rushing yards in a single season in college football history.
One of Kiffin's first responsibilities at Alabama was identifying a starting quarterback and then developing Blake Sims in 2014. With three-year starter and All-American AJ McCarron off to the NFL, Kiffin oversaw Sims' rise to the top of the Alabama depth chart en route to a school-record 3,487 passing yards and 3,837 yards of total offense while completing 64.5 percent of his passes. He ranked tied for fourth nationally in total QBR (83.7) and seventh in passing efficiency (157.9). Sims was selected second-team All-SEC, named to the Senior Bowl, tabbed as a finalist for the Manning Award and a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award.
Kiffin's offense ranked 17th nationally in total offense per game (484.5) while scoring an average of 36.9 points per game. The passing game averaged a school-record 277.9 yards per game (3,890) to rank 28th nationally and fourth in the SEC. Amari Cooper won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver, after catching a school- and SEC-record 124 passes for a UA-record 1,727 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.
He spent the previous three-plus seasons as the head coach at Southern California, where he compiled a record of 28-15. Kiffin's 2012 USC squad went 7-6 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12 South, good for second place. Wide receiver Marquise Lee was a unanimous first team All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award while also being named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. Quarterback Matt Barkley, who won the Wuerffel Trophy, set conference records for passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Kiffin led the Trojans to a 10-2 record in 2011 and a sixth-place finish in the final Associated Press poll. The team finished first in the Pac-12 South with a 7-2 mark. His 2011 USC offense produced a 3,500-yard passer, a pair of 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher. Three Trojans earned first team All-America honors (Matt Kalil, Robert Woods and T.J. McDonald) and five were named Freshman All-Americans.
In his first year as the head coach at USC, Kiffin led the Trojans to an 8-5 record (5-4 Pac-10). Before his arrival, the Trojans were averaging 26.5 points per game in scoring offense and 389.1 yards per game in total offense. In his first two seasons, those numbers increased to 31.0 points per game and 431.5 yards in 2011 and 35.8 points and 456.8 yards in 2012.
Prior to his tenure at Southern California, Kiffin served as the head coach at Tennessee in 2009. He led the Volunteers to a second-place finish in the SEC East and an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Volunteers' offense jumped at least 34 places in every national statistical category over the 2008 figures. Tennessee improved from 17.3 to 29.3 points per game while going from 268.8 to 383.5 yards per game in total offense.
Kiffin came to Tennessee from the Oakland Raiders, where he served as head coach from 2007-08. At 31, he was the youngest head coach in the NFL's modern era. Oakland's offense significantly improved in his first year, up 7.2 points per game and 48.6 yards per game from 2006.
Prior to his first head coaching job, Kiffin spent six years as an assistant coach for Pete Carroll at the University of Southern California, including two years as the offensive coordinator (2005-06). During his first tenure with the Trojans, USC captured two national championships and compiled a 65-12 record. Kiffin was promoted to passing game coordinator in 2004 and helped Matt Leinart win the Heisman Trophy as he passed for 3,322 yards with 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
He took over as USC's offensive coordinator in 2005 and led the Trojans to a scoring average of 49.1 points per game and 579.8 yards per game of total offense during his two years as offensive coordinator. Kiffin started at USC in 2001 as the tight ends coach and then coached the wide receivers during his remaining five years.
Kiffin graduated from Fresno State in 1998 after playing quarterback for three seasons (1994-96) for the Bulldogs. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Fresno State under Pat Hill in 1997 and 1998. He moved on to Colorado State in 1999 as offensive line assistant. He spent the 2000 season as defensive quality control assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars under Tom Coughlin.
Kiffin attended Bloomington (Minn.) Jefferson High, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He has two daughters, Landry and Presley, and one son, Knox.
While he remains focused on his role with the Crimson Tide, Kiffin said he is eager to begin the next phase of his career with the Owls.
“After meeting numerous times with President John Kelly, Anthony Barbar, Abdol Moabery, Dick Schmidt and Pat Chun, it was obvious the commitment here at Florida Atlantic is to take this program to the next level,” said Kiffin. “I’m very honored and humbled for Florida Atlantic to give myself and our staff an opportunity to build a championship program here. There’s no timeline for championships, but there is a commitment to go to work every day to get there.”
FAU Vice President and Director of Athletics Pat Chun said Kiffin has an opportunity in Boca Raton to define his legacy. With a ceremonial groundbreaking in January for the new Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence, made possible by a Schmidt Family Foundation gift, the largest gift in FAU history, Kiffin will be given all the tools he needs to succeed.
“Nobody wanted to be the head coach of Florida Atlantic more than Lane Kiffin,” said Pat Chun. “He emerged as our top candidate because of his conviction and belief in FAU. He impressed us with his humility and plan to demand excellence out of our student-athletes. We are excited to have a coach of his caliber lead our program.”