Florida Atlantic Univ

FAU signs up to ride the Lane Train for 10 years

Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin hugs wide receiver John Franklin III (12) after he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line during the Conference USA championship game against North Texas on Dec. 4.
Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin hugs wide receiver John Franklin III (12) after he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line during the Conference USA championship game against North Texas on Dec. 4. AP

Hours before Florida Atlantic’s first bowl game in nine years, the school signed head coach Lane Kiffin to a 10-year contract.

Kiffin himself announced and confirmed the deal, reported for a few days as being in the works, by retweeting the link to ESPN’s story.

Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic, 10-3, plays Akron Tuesday night in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl at the Owls’ own FAU Stadium. After three 3-9 seasons, Florida Atlantic turned into an offensive juggernaut behind running back Devin Singletary and a Kiffin-coached offense. Kiffin’s also drawn attention to FAU with an irreverent use of regular media and social media.

FAU president Dr. John Kelly told ESPN applications for fall 2018 increased 35 percent over 2017.

“And we haven’t done anything else differently, so it has to be Lane,” Kelly said to ESPN. “He just gets it, both as a football coach and being able to attract attention to our university. I laugh just about every day at something he puts on Twitter and understand that he’s about the good of the institution and is thinking about what appeals to a 17-year-old kid and not a 60-year-old guy.”

The obvious question: What’s the buyout if Kiffin gets a chance to return to a richer job in a Power Five conference?

According to the Sun Sentinel, Kiffin’s original five-year deal stated he would owe FAU $2.5 million if he left for another school this season, then less after each succeeding season: $2 million if he stayed two seasons, $1.5 million if he stayed three, $1 million after year four. That deal paid him a $950,000 base salary.

After skipping out on Tennessee after one season in Knoxville, Kiffin was fired from his dream job, Southern California. He also got fired from the Oakland Raiders head coaching job. FAU hired Kiffin, son of legendary defensive NFL and college coach Monte Kiffin, after he did time as Alabama’s offensive coordinator under Nick Saban.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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