Nick Saban left South Florida for Alabama. On Monday, Saban’s offensive coordinator made the return trip.
According to numerous reports, Florida Atlantic University has hired the always entertaining Lane Kiffin to be the new coach of the Owls.
Kiffin, 41, has been Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama the past three years and reportedly will remain on staff through the college football playoffs.
Alabama, the defending national champions, face Washington in a national semifinal at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve.
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The hire of Kiffin is huge for an FAU program searching to stay relevant in a year of big hires around the Sunshine State.
After a third consecutive 3-9 finish, the school fired Charlie Partridge and began searching for his replacement.
While Conference USA rival FIU hired former Miami and North Carolina coach Butch Davis, USF replaced the departed Willie Taggart (Oregon) with former Texas coach and Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.
Kiffin was the biggest name out there with rumors he was going to take the Houston job.
When the Cougars promoted offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, rumors continued that Kiffin was going to leave Alabama to join Ed Orgeron’s staff at LSU.
Instead, he landed at FAU.
Which should make for an interesting Shula Bowl when Kiffin’s Owls take on Davis and the Panthers.
Kiffin was the co-offensive coordinator for the powerhouse USC Trojans under Pete Carroll before replacing Art Shell as head coach of the Oakland Raiders at age 31 in 2007.
After being fired from the Raiders a few games into his second season, Kiffin took over at Tennessee and stayed just one season before bolting for his “dream job” at USC.
The Trojans made headlines when they fired Kiffin at the airport following a blowout loss to Arizona State early in the 2013 season.
Kiffin got a little revenge on the Trojans earlier this season when the Tide blew out USC 52-6 at the Coliseum.
After that blowout, Kiffin sent a dig via Twitter as he pictured his son holding the game ball with a reference to the time he was fired by then-AD Pat Haden and the letters ‘LAX.’
How much the Owls will pay Kiffin isn’t known, but he was making $1.4 million per season at Alabama.
In contrast, reports say FAU was paying Partridge $600,000 a season to be its head coach.
Kiffin becomes the fifth head coach in FAU history following founder Howard Schnellenberger, Carl Pelini, Brian Wright (interim) and Partridge.
The Owls haven’t had a winning season since Schnellenerger’s 2008 team went 7-6 and made the second of only two bowl appearances since the program’s inception in 2000.
Since the 2009 season — Schnellenberger retired following after going 1-11 in 2011 — the Owls have been a combined 28-67.