FAU coach Lane Kiffin rescinds scholarship offer days before Signing Day

Lane Kiffin, the newly announced head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, speaks to the press at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton on December 13, 2016.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Lane Kiffin, the newly announced head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, speaks to the press at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton on December 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

New Florida Atlantic football coach Lane Kiffin has already made national noise, and it’s not all the kind of noise he would like.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Owls skipper rescinded a scholarship offer to Orlando-Dr. Phillips athlete D.J. Charles. Making matters worse, the move was made just ahead of National Signing Day on Feb. 1, leaving the two-star prospect scrambling for a home he thought he’d already found.

When Kiffin was hired in December, Charles began getting the cold shoulder from the new regime. His phone calls yielded only voicemails, and a Twitter connection with Kiffin’s brother and FAU defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin only increased the confusion.

“He followed me on Twitter, so I followed him back,” Charles told the Orlando Sentinel, “and then he hit me up on DM, saying ‘Hey D.J., what’s up’ … and then he asked me, ‘Why did I decommit from FAU.’”

But Charles never decommitted. He asked why the new coaching staff hadn’t communicated with him and was told — a few times — that they would review his film and get back to him.

When no one did, Charles’ father, Lebert Charles, called the school and eventually received word the scholarship offer was no longer on the table.

This situation isn’t unique to Kiffin and Charles. Scholarship offers aren’t always honored after coaching changes, as play styles and subsequent needs change. New UConn football coach Randy Edsall pulled an offer to linebacker Ryan Dickens seven months after he verbally committed to the school.

Charles had been locked in at FAU since October. At the time, the 5’9”, 190-pounder told the Orlando Sentinel he felt, “relaxed, more comfortable now. I can just think about finishing up my senior year and I don’t have to worry about what school I’m going to.”

Now, Charles is back to worrying and racing to find an open spot he didn’t plan on needing.

Florida Atlantic, FSU, USF all seen as teams on the rise looking to 2017

Lane Kiffin, the newly announced head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, speaks to the press at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton on December 13, 2016.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Lane Kiffin, the newly announced head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, speaks to the press at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton on December 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

By Zach Buckley

Florida’s college football scene is collectively rising.

At least, that’s the view of Athlon Sports, which pegs five different Florida schools as programs on the rise or ones to watch in 2017.

The first distinction went to three teams: Florida State, Florida Atlantic and South Florida.

The Seminoles finished last season eighth in both the AP and Coaches polls after edging past Michigan 33-32 in the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles lost star running back Dalvin Cook, who’s NFL-bound following a year with 1,765 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns. But they’ll have another summer of seasoning for redshirt-sophomore-to-be quarterback Deondre Francois (3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns), plus incoming five-star running back Cam Akers.

The Owls’ outlook shines mostly due to changes in the coaching ranks. Head coach Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles (from Baylor) both need to repair their reputations, but each was deemed a character risk worth taking for their football minds. Former four-star FSU quarterback De’Andre Johnson is seeking his own second chance after being dismissed by the ‘Noles when video surfaced of him punching a woman at a Tallahassee nightclub in 2015.

The Bulls lost head coach Willie Taggart to Oregon but grabbed former Texas and Louisville front man Charlie Strong to replace him. South Florida also returns quarterback Quinton Flowers, who accumulated 42 touchdowns last season while passing for 2,812 yards and rushing for another 1,530.

Miami and Central Florida were both listed as programs to monitor.

The Hurricanes must find a replacement for quarterback Brad Kaaya. Still, Miami went an encouraging 9-4 during its first season under head coach Mark Richt, while Mark Walton ran wild (1,117 rushing yards and 14 scores) and Wellington product Ahmmon Richards broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving record with 934 yards. 

The Knights saw a six-win improvement during head coach Scott Frost’s first year at the helm. Quarterback McKenzie Milton passed for 1,983 yards and 10 touchdowns as a true freshman.

Lane Kiffin takes subtle shot at old rival Auburn on Twitter

Lane Kiffin, the newly announced head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, speaks to the press at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton on December 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Lane Kiffin, the newly announced head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, speaks to the press at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton on December 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Lane Kiffin has a new job, but that isn’t stopping him from taking shots at an old rival.

Florida Atlantic’s new head football coach took to Twitter this week to take a shot at Alabama’s bitter rivals, the Auburn Tigers. Kiffin, who was let go as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator days before the team faced Clemson in the national championship game, posted a picture of a private jet with the Auburn logo painted on the back and captioned the photo “#missuguys.”

Auburn fans likely don’t miss Kiffin, whose offenses at Alabama scored an average of 38 points per game in three wins over the Tigers during his tenure in Tuscaloosa.

The 41-year-old coach hasn’t been shy about showing his continued support of his old school, also taking to Twitter during the national championship game to tweet his support of Alabama, who would go on to lose to Clemson 35-31. Kiffin posted another picture on that night, this time of his Crimson Tide sweatpants.

Kiffin continues to recruit for Florida Atlantic ahead of National Signing Day on Feb. 1, already having landed a commitment from former Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson.

Lane Kiffin arrives at FAU as only D-I coach to go undefeated last season

Lane Kiffin, the newly announced head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, speaks to the press at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton on December 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Lane Kiffin, the newly announced head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, speaks to the press at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton on December 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Lane Kiffin comes to Florida Atlantic University as the only college coach in the country to, technically, go undefeated this past season.

As SB Nation points out — largely in jest — Kiffin, who was let go from his offensive coordinator position at Alabama just days before the Crimson Tide were to play in the national championship game against Clemson after it was determined that the demands of holding both that and his new head-coaching role at FAU were too difficult, is the only coach who can say he had a spotless record during the 2016 season.

The only other undefeated team in the nation entering bowl season was the Western Michigan Broncos, who retained all of their coaches before losing 24-16 to Wisconsin the Cotton Bowl.

Despite the distinction, it appears that Kiffin was rooting against it, considering his mid-game tweet in support of Alabama.

The Crimson Tide’s loss to Clemson turned the attention toward Saban and Kiffin’s “mutual agreement” to relieve Kiffin of his coordinator duties. Some have questioned the decision to allow Steve Sarkisian to take over for the national championship game, especially after Kiffin helped to lead Alabama to a perfect record up until that point.

Regardless of the ramifications in Tuscaloosa, FAU’s head man now has a new title that he can throw around in recruits’ living rooms.

Read more at SB Nation.