BOCA RATON — Lane Kiffin’s second coaching staff at Florida Atlantic will look slightly different than the one that helped bring about the program’s first Conference USA title last season.
Though several hires had already been reported by various outlets, FAU on Tuesday confirmed that Atlanta Falcons assistant Charlie Weis Jr. is officially replacing Kendal Briles as the Owls offensive coordinator, while former Alabama assistant Wes Neighbors will coach the safeties.
Former UNLV offensive-line coach John Garrison will man the same position at FAU, replacing Garin Justice, who left after the Owls’ Dec. 19 Boca Raton Bowl win over Akron to take the same job at Arizona under former coach Rich Rodriguez. When Rodriguez was fired earlier this month, Justice was not retained by new Wildcats coach Kevin Sumlin and, ironically, will replace Garrison as the Rebels’ offensive-line coach.
FAU also announced two promotions, with player-development assistant Jaron Fairman now set to coach special teams. Fairman — who was hired by Kiffin before the latter’s final season at USC at 2013 and joined him in Boca Raton last spring — and Neighbors will replace Corey Batoon, who held both positions last year before being hired as Hawaii’s defensive coordinator last month. Strength and conditioning coach Wilson Love, who quickly became a fan favorite with his signature barks and shouts at practice, has been named assistant head football coach as well.
Kiffin does not normally make assistant coaches available to the media and did not make a statement on the hirings. When asked about Weis Jr. in a recent interview with Bleacher Report, Kiffin compared hiring the 24-year-old to former USC coach Pete Carroll giving him coach a job when he was just 27.
“I know for a fact [Falcons coach] Dan [Quinn] wasn’t happy losing him,” one NFC scout told Bleacher Report’s Matt Hayes. “You won’t talk to one person who has a bad thing to say about Charlie. He’s going to be a star in this business. Lane is way ahead of the curve on this.”
All other staffers from last season are still on the roster at this time. Lane’s younger brother Chris will continue to serve as the team’s defensive coordinator and their father, soon-to-be 78-year-old Monte Kiffin, will likely stay in the same role as a pro liaison/adviser. Former Florida State/West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett (tight ends), Eric Matheis (defensive line), Kevin Smith (running backs) and Keynodo Hudon (cornerbacks) will all return as well.
Kiffin is expected to comment on the coaching hires, as well as his 2018 recruiting class, in a Signing Day press conference on Feb. 7.