On Monday, Nick Saban held court in front of his coaching peers at the AFCA Convention. Among his anecdotes, Saban briefly touched on the controversial hiring of Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator.
“I’ve known him for a long time. I always thought he was a really good coach. All his issues come from something we’re not asking him to do.”
The translation: Kiffin will be seen, not heard. Saban understands the media fallout from hiring such a lightning rod. But here’s the thing: he doesn’t care.
Much like Bill Belichick, Saban believes in the program more than the individuals. All that matters are results. As soon as the initial shock passes, Kiffin will be, presumably, nothing more than a cog in the machine. He won’t be tasked with weekly pressers or being the face of a program; he can game plan, recruit and keep his nose clean.
Saban doesn’t ignore Kiffin’s baggage. Alabama is already the most-hated and most-covered program in the nation. From a publicity standpoint, what press does Kiffin add that wasn’t already in Tuscaloosa? Besides, Saban is so successful that he’s immune to outside criticism of what he believes is the best possible hire for his team.