American Football Wiki
Lane Kiffin
Lane Kiffin 4249
Kiffin on the sidelines
Current position
Title Head Coach
Team Florida Atlantic
Conference SEC
Biographical details
Born May 9 1975 (1975-05-09) (age 49)
Lincoln, Nebraska
Playing career
1994–1996 Fresno State
Position(s) Quarterback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1997–1998 Fresno State (assistant)
1999 Colorado State (GA)
2000 Jacksonville Jaguars (OQC)
2001 USC (TE)
2002–2004 USC (WR)
2005–2006 USC (PGC/OC)
2007–2008 Oakland Raiders
2009 Tennessee
2010–2013 USC
2014–2016 Alabama (OC/QB)
2017–present Florida Atlantic
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
Head coaching record
Overall 35–21 (college)
5–15 (NFL)
Bowls 0–2

Lane Monte Kiffin (born May 9, 1975) is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the head football coach at Florida Atlantic University. Lane formerly served as the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama and the USC Trojans football team from 2005 to 2006, head coach of the National Football League's Oakland Raiders from 2007 to 2008, head coach of the University of Tennessee Volunteers college football team in 2009, and head coach of the USC Trojans from 2010 to 2013. Kiffin was the youngest head coach in NFL history when he joined the Raiders, and for a time was the youngest head coach of a BCS Conference team in college football.[1][2] He is the son of longtime NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who was most recently the assistant head coach/defense for the Dallas Cowboys.[3]

Coaching career[]

Early positions[]

Kiffin worked as a graduate assistant for one year at Colorado State University. In 1999, while he was working with the offensive line, the Rams played in the Liberty Bowl that season. Kiffin secured a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a quality control assistant for one year.[4] He was then hired by Pete Carroll as a tight ends coach at USC.

USC Trojans assistant coach[]

Kiffin began working with the USC staff during the 2001 season and became the wide receivers coach prior to the 2002 season. For the 2004 season, he added the duties of passing game coordinator, and he was promoted to offensive coordinator along with Steve Sarkisian for the 2005 season after Norm Chow left USC for the same position with the NFL's Tennessee Titans. Kiffin also took the reins as recruiting coordinator that year. Along with these duties, Kiffin continued as the wide receivers coach. Under Kiffin and Sarkisian in 2005 the USC offense produced numerous school records, averaging 49.1 points and 579 yards per game and becoming the first in NCAA history to have a 3,000 yard passer (Matt Leinart), two 1,000 yard rushers (Reggie Bush and LenDale White), and a 1,000 yard receiver (Dwayne Jarrett). Steve Smith fell a few yards of also surpassing 1,000 yards in receiving. In Kiffin’s three years as recruiting coordinator at USC, the Trojans had the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in college football every year. The Trojans finished first in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency by averaging 142.8 passer rating, produced two, 1,000-yard receivers – Dwayne Jarrett (1,105) and Steve Smith (1,083) – and a 3,000-yard passer John David Booty, with 3,347 yards. The team produced top 20 statistics in most NCAA offensive categories and concluded with a 32–18 win over the then #3 ranked team Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Kiffin helped guide USC to a 23–3 win-loss record during his tenure as offensive coordinator, an 88% win percentage; however, in June 2010 the NCAA retroactively declared Reggie Bush ineligible for the entire 2005 season, and forced USC to vacate all of its 2005 wins. Litigation from former coach Todd McNair to overturn those vacancies is still ongoing.[5]

Oakland Raiders[]

Raiders' owner Al Davis hired Kiffin on January 23, 2007, making him the youngest head coach in Raiders history, and the youngest head coach in the NFL's "modern era" (since 1946), and signed Kiffin to a two-year deal worth about $4 million with a team option for 2009.[1] Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach John Madden was 32 when he was elevated to the head post by Davis in 1969. Davis had been known to select young, up-and-coming coaches in their thirties; those hires who fared well include John Madden, Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden. All have won Super Bowls, though Madden is the only one of the three to win a championship with the Raiders. Age 31 at the time of his hiring by the Raiders (32 when he coached his first game), Kiffin became the youngest head coach in National Football League history; he also surpassed the New York Jets' Eric Mangini and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin as the youngest head coach since the AFL–NFL merger in 1970.

On August 12, 2007, in his NFL head coaching debut, Kiffin and the Raiders won their preseason opener 27–23 over the Arizona Cardinals. Kiffin vehemently opposed the selection of JaMarcus Russell in the 2007 NFL Draft, who would eventually be regarded as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history.[6] Russell held out until September 12, and did not make his first start until December 2, long after the season was effectively over. Kiffin recorded his first regular season win as an NFL head coach on September 23, 2007; the Raiders defeated the Cleveland Browns 26–24 when defensive lineman Tommy Kelly blocked a late Cleveland field goal. At his end-of-the-season press conference, Kiffin told the media and his players that he had many plans and changes he was going to make in the 2008 offseason. When asked by his players about rumors that Kiffin was interested in open coaching positions in college football, he told them he never thought the rumors were important enough to address because he was never planning to leave.[7]

Departure from the Raiders[]

On January 25, 2008, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Davis, who was not known for being patient with his coaches, tried to force Kiffin to resign after his first season ended with a 4–12 record. A source allegedly close to Kiffin told Mortensen that Kiffin would not resign, and would not sign the letter of resignation which would cause him to forfeit his $2 million salary for the remaining guaranteed year of his contract.[8] However, the Raiders denied the story, while Kiffin refused to comment.[9]

On September 15, 2008, NBC Sports reported Davis was unhappy with Kiffin, and intended to fire him as soon as the following Monday or Tuesday. On September 30, 2008, Davis fired Kiffin over the telephone.[10] At the televised news conference announcing the firing, Davis called Kiffin "a flat-out liar" and said he was guilty of "bringing disgrace to the organization". The Raiders said the move was made for cause, meaning they would terminate his contract immediately without paying the $2.6 million that was left on it for 2008. Kiffin later added in an interview with ESPN that he was not proud to be associated with Davis's accusations and was actually more embarrassed for Davis than himself.[11] The Raiders subsequently released a letter Davis sent to Kiffin on September 12 which warned him that he was on the verge of being fired for "conduct detrimental to the Raiders," including repeated instances of making excuses and outright lies.[12] Kiffin's post-firing press conference was canceled. Kiffin filed a grievance against the Raiders, claiming that he was fired without cause,[13] but on November 15, 2010, an arbitrator ruled that Davis did indeed have cause to fire Kiffin.[14] Kiffin's short tenure as the Raiders' head coach ended with a 5–15 record. Offensive line coach Tom Cable was given interim head coaching duties for the remainder of the 2008 season and was later made their permanent head coach on February 4, 2009.

Several of his former Raider staff expressed interest as Kiffin began assembling his new staff at the University of Tennessee. On December 15, 2008, Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable lashed out at Kiffin for hiring one of his assistants, James Cregg, with two weeks remaining in the NFL season. Cable called the timing of Cregg's departure "wrong in the business of coaching" and indicated he had lost respect for Kiffin and planned to confront him about it. Nothing further was said publicly regarding the incident.[15]

Despite the animosity between the Raiders and Kiffin, he released a statement following Al Davis' death in October 2011 stating that although their relationship had not ended well, he appreciated the opportunity Davis had given him and had "nothing but the greatest respect" for the late Raiders owner.[16]

Tennessee Volunteers[]

On November 28, 2008, multiple media outlets reported that Lane Kiffin would be the next head football coach for the University of Tennessee Volunteers in 2009, replacing head coach Phillip Fulmer[17][18] after Phillip Fulmer retired. UT formally introduced Kiffin as the school's 21st head football coach on December 1, 2008 in a 2:00 p.m. news conference.[19]

Kiffin, 33, was hired by Tennessee and became the youngest active head coach in Division I FBS, surpassing Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald.[20]

Kiffin signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Tennessee on November 30, 2008. The deal included $2 million in 2009, with additional performance bonuses, including a $300,000 bonus if UT competes for the national championship. His salary was set to increase over the six-year-deal, reaching a high of $2.75 million in 2014. The average salary of the deal was $2.375 million. If Kiffin had been fired in 2009 or 2010, the school would have to pay him $7.5 million under a buyout clause; after the 2012 season, the buyout clause decreased to $5 million.[21] Kiffin's contract stated that if he resigned, he would have to pay UT $1 million in 2009, with the sum decreasing by $200,000 each year of his contract.[22]

Kiffin led the Vols to a 7–6 record in 2009, an improvement from their 5–7 record in 2008. The Vols increased their offensive output by more than 60 percent in 2009 with Kiffin calling the offensive plays.[23] Highlights included wins over South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky. However the season was marred by losses to UCLA, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss, as well as a 23-point blow-out loss to Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. After one season as coach, Kiffin left the Vols during the 2010 recruiting season to accept the head coaching job at the University of Southern California.

Remarks and accusations[]

On February 5, 2009 during a Tennessee booster breakfast at the Knoxville Convention Center, Kiffin accused Urban Meyer, then head coach of the Florida Gators and currently head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, of violating NCAA recruiting rules.[24]

"I'm going to turn Florida in right here in front of you," Kiffin told the crowd. "As Nu'Keese (Richardson) was here on campus, his phone keeps ringing. And so one of our coaches is sitting in the meeting with him and says, 'Who is that?' And he looks at the phone and says, 'Urban Meyer.' Just so you know, you can't call a recruit on another campus. But I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him."[24]

While Kiffin accused Meyer of violating NCAA rules, he incidentally violated a Southeastern Conference rule that prevented coaches from mentioning a recruit by name. Kiffin's accusations against Meyer were mistaken.[24] Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive issued a public reprimand to Kiffin because of the comment.[25] In addition to the SEC's public reprimand, Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley demanded a public apology from Kiffin.[26] Kiffin issued a public apology one day after making the comment. In a statement released by the University of Tennessee, Kiffin wrote, "In my enthusiasm for our recruiting class, I made some statements that were meant solely to excite those at the breakfast. If I offended anyone at the University of Florida, including Mr. Foley and Urban Meyer, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intention."[27]

Kiffin generated further controversy when he told recruit Alshon Jeffery that if Jeffery chose the Gamecocks, "he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players from that state who had gone to South Carolina." Alshon Jeffery went on to sign with the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and became the second round, 45th pick overall in the 2012 NFL Draft being signed by the Chicago Bears, and selected to the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl[28][29] Kiffin denied making the statement however the incident was corroborated by Alshon Jeffery's coach Walter Wilson who was listening to Kiffin's remarks on speakerphone.[30][31][32]

Departure from Tennessee[]

Kiffin's departure for USC in 2010 after just one season as head coach of the Volunteers upset some students and fans of the University of Tennessee. When Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton was asked for an assessment of Kiffin's tenure coaching the Volunteers, he responded with just one word: "Brief."[33] Hundreds of students rioted on campus at the news of Kiffin's departure.[34] Knoxville police and fire department were brought in after students blocked the exit from the Neyland Thompson Sports Center and started several small fires.[35]

USC Trojans[]


Kiffin talking to quarterback Matt Barkley

On January 12, 2010, Kiffin returned to USC to become the Trojans head coach. This came following Pete Carroll's departure from USC to become the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.[36]

In June 2010, after a prolonged four-year investigation into whether former USC running back Reggie Bush and his family had accepted financial benefits and housing from two sports agents in San Diego while he was a student athlete at USC, the NCAA imposed sanctions against the Trojan football program for a "lack of institutional control," including a two-year postseason ban, the loss of 30 scholarships over three years, and the vacation of all wins in which Bush participated as an "ineligible" player, including the 2005 Orange Bowl, in which the Trojans won the BCS National Championship.[37] The severity of these sanctions have been criticized by some NCAA football writers,[38][39][40][41][42] including ESPN’s Ted Miller, who wrote, “It's become an accepted fact among informed college football observers that the NCAA sanctions against USC were a travesty of justice, and the NCAA’s refusal to revisit that travesty are a massive act of cowardice on the part of the organization.”[43]

Kiffin's tenure at USC was widely considered a disappointment. While the team placed regularly in the top 25, USC had regularly won the conference and sometimes the national title over the previous decade. Questionable coaching calls and the restrictions of sanctions contributed to a sense of missed opportunity.

2010 season[]

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In 2010, his first season at USC, Kiffin's Trojans team finished the season 8–5 but were ineligible for post-season play due to the NCAA sanctions. After the NCAA issued a guideline allowing current USC juniors and seniors to automatically transfer from USC without having to sit out a year, several USC players left before the start of the 2010 season, including Malik Jackson and Byron Moore to Tennessee, Travon Patterson to Colorado, D.J. Shoemate to Connecticut, Uona Kaveinga to BYU, and Blake Ayles to Miami, among others.[44] Seantrel Henderson, who had signed a letter of intent to USC, was granted a release by Kiffin and immediately enrolled at Miami. Both Kiffin and former head coach Pete Carroll publicly referred to this NCAA-transfer exception as "free agency" because it allowed current USC players to be targeted for transfer opportunities and granted them immediate eligibility at their transfer destination.[45] USC played the 2010 season with just 71 scholarship players, some of whom were redshirt candidates who did not play, instead of the normal NCAA allowance of 85 scholarship players.

Season highlights included a 48–14 win over the California Golden Bears in which Matt Barkley tied the USC record for touchdown passes in a game by completing five in just the first half to put the Trojans up 42–0 at halftime.[46] After losing to rival Notre Dame for the first time in eight years, USC bounced back to close their season with a win over cross-town rival UCLA to retain the Victory Bell. Quarterback Matt Barkley returned after missing the previous week and threw one of the team's two touchdown passes. Allen Bradford led the Trojans by gaining 212 yards rushing and catching a 47-yard touchdown pass.[47]

2011 season[]

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In 2011, Kiffin coached the Trojans to a 10–2 record (7–2 in the Pac-12), despite being ineligible for post-season play for the second-consecutive season. On May 26, 2011, the NCAA's Appeals Committee upheld the sanctions against USC, after ruling that the use of precedent was not allowed under NCAA Bylaws, so the USC football team could not participate in the Pacific-12 Championship Game (although they held the best record in the South division) or play in a bowl game during the 2011–12 season.[48] The BCS announced June 6, 2011, that it had stripped USC of the 2004 title,[49] though USC still retains the 2003 and 2004 AP National Championships.[49]

Season highlights included road wins against the California Golden Bears, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and Oregon Ducks.[50] Kiffin's Trojans lost in triple overtime to the Stanford Cardinal, who were led by Andrew Luck, but they bounced back by winning their last four games and defeating the UCLA Bruins 50–0 at the Coliseum, which extended the Trojans' victory streak against the Bruins to five.

USC ended the season with two thousand-yard receivers (Robert Woods and Marqise Lee), a thousand-yard rusher (Curtis McNeal), and a 3,000-yard passer (Matt Barkley) for the first time since the 2005 season, when Kiffin served as offensive coordinator.

2012 season[]

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Kiffin for the first time became a voting member of the USA Today Coaches' Poll, but he resigned after just one vote amidst controversy over his preseason selection of USC as No. 1. After being informed that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had voted the Trojans as the top team, Kiffin told reporters, "I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that much." However, USA Today, citing the need to "protect the poll's integrity", revealed that Kiffin had voted his team for the top spot. Kiffin apologized and explained that his comments were from the perspective of an opposing coach voting for USC.[51] The Trojans finished the season 7–6, 5–4 in Pac-12 play. During the 2012 season, Kiffin became the first coach since 1964 to take the pre-season #1 ranked team to unranked by the end of the season. Prior to 2012, the last time a team that was the pre-season ranked #1 to unranked was USC in 1963.[52]

2013 season and firing[]

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The Trojans lost their first two conference games of the 2013 season against Washington State and Arizona State, making Kiffin's record 4-7 in his last eleven games. On September 28, 2013, after the 62 to 41 loss to Arizona State, USC Athletics Director Pat Haden fired Kiffin hours after the game, when the team arrived back in Los Angeles at 3 a.m. Kiffin was called off the team bus that was preparing to head to campus from Los Angeles International Airport and taken to a small room inside the terminal where Haden told Kiffin he was being dismissed. Haden supposedly met with USC president Max Nikias in the third quarter and they decided Kiffin should be terminated. Haden formally announced the decision the next day.[53] Assistant coach Ed Orgeron took over for Kiffin and led the team to a 6-2 finish, including an upset win against Stanford at the Coliseum. USC won the Las Vegas Bowl under interim head coach Clay Helton against Fresno State. Former USC associate head coach and Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian was hired by Haden following the season.

Alabama Crimson Tide[]

In December 2013 Kiffin spent eight days in Tuscaloosa, Alabama reviewing the Alabama Crimson Tide team's offense.[54] On January 9, 2014, after Michigan hired Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, Kiffin interviewed for the vacant coordinator job. Kiffin was offered the job as offensive coordinator at Alabama and accepted on January 10.[54][55]

Personal life[]

Lane is the son of Monte Kiffin, a long time defensive coordinator in the National Football League, most notably for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Monte resigned as the defensive coordinator on Lane's staff at USC and was hired for the same position with the Dallas Cowboys.[36] In 1994, Kiffin graduated from Bloomington Jefferson High School in Minnesota[56] and committed to Fresno State University. He played backup quarterback for the Fresno State Bulldogs and gave up his senior season to become a Student Assistant Coach at Fresno State where his position coach was Jeff Tedford, who would later become the head coach at Cal. He graduated from Fresno State in 1998, where he also played basketball and baseball.

Lane and his wife Layla, who is a University of Florida alumna, have three children, daughters Landry and Pressley and son, Monte Knox Kiffin.[57] Kiffin's brother, Chris, was a defensive lineman at Colorado State University and is the current defensive line coach for Ole Miss.[58] Kiffin's father-in-law, John Reaves, is a former NFL quarterback who played college football for the Florida Gators.

Head coaching record[]


Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
OAK 2007 4 12 0 .250 last in AFC west
OAK 2008 1 3 0 .250
OAK Total 5 15 0 .250
Total 5 15 0 .250


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Tennessee Volunteers (Southeastern Conference) (2009)
2009 Tennessee 7–6 4–4 T–2nd (Eastern) L Chick-Fil-A
Tennessee: 7–6 4–4
USC Trojans (Pac-10/Pac-12 Conference) (2010–2013)
2010 USC 8–5 5–4 T–3rd
2011 USC 10–2 7–2 1st (South) 6
2012 USC 7–6 5–4 T–2nd (South) L Sun
2013 USC 3–2* 0–2 (South)
USC: 28–15 17–12
Total: 35–21
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

‡ Ineligible for Pac-12 title, bowl game and Coaches' Poll due to NCAA sanctions.

* Kiffin was fired on September 29, 2013.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Youngest NFL Coaches (Modern Era). Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2009-02-25.
  5. Laws, Will. "Former USC Coach's Lawsuit Against NCAA Drags On", June 25, 2013. Retrieved on September 29, 2013. 
  7. Jones, Jason. Kiffin turns attention to future, The Sacramento Bee, January 1, 2008
  8. Mortensen, Chris. Raiders coach refuses to heed Davis' call to resign,, January 25, 2008
  9. Raiders deny report they asked Kiffin to resign. Fox Sports (2008-01-25). Retrieved on 2008-01-25.
  10. ESPN: Sources: Raiders finally fire Kiffin, consider promoting assistants. Retrieved on 2008-09-30.
  11. Raiders' owner describes in great detail firing of Kiffin ESPN
  12. Al Davis' letter to Kiffin
  13. Kiffin to Give Deposition for Grievance Yahoo Sports, March 14, 2009
  14. Kiffin Denied Grievance, November 15, 2010
  15. "Raiders assistant leaves to join Kiffin with Vols". 
  16. "Former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin on Davis' passing". 
  19. UT Selects Lane Kiffin as 21st Head Football Coach.
  21. "Kiffin to receive $2 million plus bonuses in 2009". 
  22. "Kiffin introduced as UT coach; will make $2 million in 2009". 
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Gene Wojciechowski (2009-02-06). Kiffin's mouth earns him a penalty. Retrieved on 2009-02-12.
  25. Kiffin Reprimanded. Southeastern Conference Media Relations (2009-02-05). Retrieved on 2009-02-12.
  26. Foley Statement:No Violation. – network (2009-02-05). Retrieved on 2009-02-12.
  27. Associated Press (2009-02-06). Kiffin apologizes for jab at Meyer. Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Retrieved on 2009-02-12.
  28. Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about incident
  29. article about incident
  30. article
  31. MSNBC article about incident
  32. article about story
  34. KUT Students Riot Over Coach's Departure. Retrieved on 13 January 2010.
  35. "Kiffin's departure creates hard feelings and uncertainty at Tennessee", USA Today, January 13, 2010. Retrieved on 13 January 2010. 
  36. 36.0 36.1 Kiffin bolts Tennessee to coach USC. Retrieved on 13 January 2010.
  37. "NCAA sanctions against USC", The Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2010. 
  38. Jay Bilas, "Anyone know what NCAA's standards are?",, July 1, 2010.
  39. Bryant Gumbel, "Student/Athlete Behavior", Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, September 21, 2010.
  40. Bryan Fischer, " Trojans never stood a chance after taking NCAA's best shot",, May 26, 2011.
  41. Pete Fiutak, "USC paying for NCAA's inconsistency?",, May 26, 2011.
  42. Stewart Mandel, "What USC's sanctions mean for Ohio State",, April 27, 2011.
  43. Miller, Ted. What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 14. Pac-12 Blog.
  46. "Matt Barkley's 5 TD passes ties USC record in rout of Cal", ESPN, 2010-10-16. Retrieved on 2011-02-08. 
  47. "Allen Bradford's 212 rush yards, 47-yard TD catch carry USC past UCLA", ESPN, 2010-12-04. Retrieved on 2011-02-08. 
  48. Erick Smith, USC 'vehemently' disagrees with NCAA's rejection of appeal, USA Today, May 26, 2011
  49. 49.0 49.1 "BCS strips Southern California of 2004 national championship", Erick Smith, USA Today, June 6, 2011
  51. Moura, Pedro. "Lane Kiffin relinquishes voting duty",, August 13, 2012. Archived from the original on August 16, 2012. 
  53. "USC fires Lane Kiffin as football coach". 
  54. 54.0 54.1 Casagrande, Michael. "Alabama hires former USC, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator",, January 10, 2014. Retrieved on January 10, 2014. 
  55. Scarborough, Alex. "Alabama hires Lane Kiffin",, January 10, 2014. Retrieved on January 10, 2014. 
  56. Lane Kiffin leaves Vols for Trojans
  57. "Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has new son". 

External links[]