In the pantheon of sports’ greatest what-if questions, the hypothetical inquiry of, “What if Lane Kiffin had coached Alabama’s offense in the national championship?” seems pretty low on the pecking order.
But for fans of the Crimson Tide — and Kiffin himself — the scenario apparently still warrants a mental examination.
Kiffin did a lengthy interview with Fox Sports Radio’s “Outkick the Coverage” and was asked if he thought the game would have played out differently had he retained his post. The new FAU football skipper said he couldn’t answer that.
“I don’t know that,” Kiffin said. “There’s no way to know that.
“[Then-offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian] was put in a very difficult situation. Whatever it was, a week, eight days or whatever and all of a sudden you’re calling the game. So like you said, it’s the hardest one to try to figure out. … If it would have been different and had I been there, that meant I would have won — if that is the case, I don’t know that. It wouldn’t have had anything to do with anything about Sark. It would have been the players being comfortable of what they know.”
Alabama lost the title game to Clemson 35-31 on a last-second touchdown after relinquishing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead.
The Owls hired Kiffin to replace Charlie Partridge as their new head coach in mid-December, about a month before college football’s finale. Kiffin originally planned to run Alabama’s offense through the end of its playoff run but that idea was scrapped in a reportedly mutual agreement one week before the contest.
Sarkisian left Alabama after the loss to take the same position with the Atlanta Falcons. Brian Daboll, who led the Miami Dolphins offense in 2011, now calls the shots in Tuscaloosa.