Since he took over as head coach at FAU, there has been a ton of speculation about what Lane Kiffin’s next job will be. He had a very tumultuous single year at Tennessee, parlayed into a stint at USC, during which he was fired at mid-season in year four. After some Nick Saban tutelage, and a successful year at FAU, it seems inevitable that Kiffin will be back at another big school.
Kiffin’s head coaching career arc started much higher than it probably should have. Before he spent a year at Tennessee, Kiffin was an extremely young NFL head coach. He coached the Oakland Raiders from 2007-2008, to a 5-15 record before being fired just four games into his second season.
Last season, Kiffin went 11-3 in his first year with the Owls. He has kicked recruiting up a notch, and should contend for the Conference USA title as long as he’s there.
Things could all have been different, however. Back in 2008, Kiffin could have been the Arkansas head coach.
Lane Kiffin’s next job is a common talking point, but he says he almost had a different first college head coaching job.
He joined Arkansas sportscaster Bo Mattingly on the radio this afternoon. In it, he revealed as much, though he didn’t specify when it was.
Kiffin: Without giving too much detail, I was very close to becoming the head coach at Arkansas at one point in time.
— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) May 8, 2018
Obviously, Arkansas made a head coaching hire this year, going with SMU head coach Chad Morris. Mattingly clarified that this was for the 2008 opening, posting a link to an old interview with Kiffin’s former boss, late Raiders owner Al Davis, with whom he shared a very contentious relationship.
That year, Arkansas hired away Atlanta Falcons and then-former Louisville Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino. He would go on to turn Arkansas into one of the SEC West’s better programs, until he lost his job after the scandal following his motorcycle accident.
Heading to Arkansas could have altered the entire path of Kiffin’s career. However, there is a decent chance he might’ve still wound up at USC. He clearly wasn’t hired from Tennessee for the 7-6 record he put up in his year with the Vols.
Kiffin had served as an assistant for the Trojans from 2001-06, and that school has hired from the larger Pete Carroll tree since he left for the NFL. Still, it is hard not to wonder what would have changed if Kiffin had taken over the Razorbacks a year before he did so with the Vols.