Alabama Enters a New Era on Offense Under Lane Kiffin
One of the biggest unknowns is in Tuscaloosa, where Alabama head coach Nick Saban has turned the keys of the offense over to former USC and Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin.
The move caught a lot of people off guard, as Saban and Kiffin have been on opposite ends of the college football spectrum for the last several years.
Kiffin instantly became one of Saban's biggest rivals when he took over the Tennessee program, but of course, that was short-lived due to Kiffin's departure for USC. And, after being unable to keep that storied program afloat, the former up-and-comer found himself out of a job.
Enter Saban and an offensive coordinator spot on a team searching for a new offensive identity.
While you can knock Kiffin's success as a head coach both in college and the NFL, as a coordinator and assistant, he hasn't been too shabby. Some coaches simply perform better in an assistant role, and after crashing and burning as the lead man for a couple of big time college football programs, perhaps Kiffin has found a place where he can rework some of his assistant magic.
But he'll have to do it with a new face leading the way at quarterback.
Gone is AJ McCarron, who had yet another memorable year in 2013 to become Alabama's all-time leader in passing yards, which means that the Crimson Tide will have to replace one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history.
It certainly won't be easy, but Kiffin has several options to work with. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker seems to be the best choice for replacing McCarron, however, Blake Sims, Alec Sims, or David Cornwell will give him competition in the spring.
It also helps that playmaking wide receiver Amari Cooper is back on the outside, plus sophomore running back Derrick Henry is set to become the next great Crimson Tide rusher.
So, even without the departures, Kiffin still has the tools to immediately be successful in his new position.
And thanks to the way that the 2013 campaign ended for Alabama, a bit of added pressure is present heading into spring practice.
Saban and company saw in-state rival Auburn derail their road to another national championship, as a Chris Davis field goal return allowed the Tigers to not only beat the Tide, but also march all the way to the national title game.
Do you think Saban is ready to let Gus Malzahn start a dynasty of his own at Auburn? No way.
That's why Saban opted to bring in a coach like Kiffin. He wanted a coach that had offensive ideas that would help the Crimson Tide going forward, and ultimately, a coach that would allow Alabama to keep up with the constantly changing face of NCAA offenses.
Despite all the controversy and head coaching miscues, Kiffin has proven himself to be an elite offensive mind in the past.
Now, he'll get the opportunity to reprove himself in the present for a team with all the ingredients to return to national championship glory.
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