BOCA RATON — A year ago this week, Lane Kiffin reintroduced the world to Florida Atlantic University.
Just a month after FAU hired him as the fifth head coach in program history and just before a signing day that many recruiting services called the best in Conference USA, Kiffin went viral for a recruiting video in which he appeared … eh … less than enthusiastic.
“That was a trick,” Kiffin told assembled reporters several days later. “We did it so bad because we knew we would get so much attention.”
Kiffin immediately went viral for his combination of monotonous speaking, lack of eye contact, and his lackadaisical “Go Owls!” The jokes about Kiffin — previously the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, Southern California Trojans and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders — being so ecstatic to have the opportunity to coach a Group of 5 team which hadn’t posted a winning season since 2008 became far too easy to make.
And yet, Kiffin and FAU attracted major attention — in large part from the coach’s tweet storms (in which celebrities would be recruited to “#cometothefaU” or he took shots at Alabama head coach Nick Saban) — en route to an 11-3 finish, the most wins FAU has recorded as a Division I team.
“We had a really good marketing idea,” Kiffin told FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd last spring. “If we just do a normal video, nobody’s really going to play it outside of Boca (Raton, Florida). So let’s do, like, the worst one ever so everybody will put it on TV and say, ‘Look how bad this is.’ All of a sudden, you’ve got all kinds of publicity for the program. You’ve got people looking up FAU who don’t even know what FAU is. Pretty good, huh?”
Now, with the Owls’ second signing day under Kiffin approaching on Feb. 7, the Twitter-loving head coach has been uncharacteristically quiet. Instead of making social-media pitches on the benefits of coming to FAU, Kiffin’s Twitter focus has mainly been retweeting prospects announcing their commitment and the occasional inspirational message.
Normally, the social media activity of a football coach is only news when he tweets something controversial or newsworthy, like when Kiffin retweeted a video of an FAU student with cerebral palsy and later promised him sideline passes. But with Kiffin, who generated so much attention in the last year for “recruiting” former Boynton Beach star Lamar Jackson to “come home” or joking about point spreads, a quiet Twitter account might be disconcerting for his 400,000-plus followers.
A quick scroll of Kiffin’s Twitter page shows a lack of #cometothefaU tweets, though one was — of course — directed at Saban.
Once signing day comes and goes, however, Kiffin will likely get back to tweeting his own philosophical messages from the Dao of Lane.
In the meantime, FAU fans can only hope for a sequel to last year’s recruiting video.