Published On: Mon, Dec 9th, 2019

End of an Era: The impact Lane Kiffin had on FAU, as new head coaching search begins

Photo provided by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

With rumors of the Florida Atlantic University Owls head football coach, Lane Kiffin, pursuing another head coaching position prior to the team’s 49-6 Conference USA Championship victory over the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers on Saturday, Dec. 7, fans, students, and the rest of the Boca Raton community felt more appreciative of him than disappointed, despite the news.

As Kiffin officially resigned and accepted the head coach job at the University of Mississippi after winning his second C-USA title in his three seasons with the Owls, the FAU Athletics staff, including Vice President and Director of Athletics Brian White, had nothing but gratitude for him.

“Coach Kiffin deserves our thanks and a great deal of credit for continuing to build our football program to high levels of success,” White said. “We have an extremely talented roster returning and I couldn’t be more excited about the future of our football program.”

Whether it was playing against highly ranked opponents across the country, such as the University of Wisconsin in 2017, Oklahoma University in 2018, and Ohio State University this season, or receiving visits from former NFL players and celebrities like Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Snoop Dogg, the impact Kiffin left at FAU was uncanny and put the university on the map at a national level.

When he was announced as FAU’s fifth head coach in program history on Dec. 13, 2016, the hype and publicity surrounding Kiffin was immediately there, as it was unheard of to have a former Oakland Raiders head coach and University of Alabama offensive coordinator decide to coach at a university in Boca Raton, Fla. where just over 30,000 students attend.

Nonetheless, with his catchphrase describing the atmosphere at FAU of “Football in Paradise,” the Owls that finished with a 3-9 record from 2014 to 2016 turned into the Owls that were conference champions in 2017 and had running back Devin Singletary drafted to the Buffalo Bills in the third round of the NFL Draft this past April. Although Kiffin’s success at FAU translated to the pros, that was the least of his concerns.

“I was used to all players thinking they were going to the NFL and your job is to get the players drafted the highest that you can,” Kiffin said, according to the New York Times. “[FAU] changed me to realize, I’ve got a bigger calling than that [and that] calling is to really help these kids develop.”

Kiffin, 44, finished with 26-13 record over the past three seasons as FAU’s head coach. Even though a replacement for the position has yet to be found, White announced that first-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will serve as interim head coach.

Now that the Owls will prepare for a bowl game, Kiffin reminds everyone that success is not achieved just from one person, but from others around that person, which he will try to repeat, as he begins to put together his coaching staff at Ole Miss.

“You don’t win two conference championships because you hire a head coach,” Kiffin said. “You have to have a lot of things in place and a lot of people helping, and that’s what happened [at FAU].”

About the Author

- Justin Baronoff is currently a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. He is pursuing a major in Multimedia Journalism, where he hopes to some day write for major news media publications, such as the New York Times, ESPN, or even Billboard Magazine. In high school, Justin wrote for his high school newspaper for three years where he was a staff reporter for the first two years before becoming the Sports Editor in his final year. At FAU during the first semester of his sophomore year, he began interning for isportsweb.com, where he wrote about and covered his favorite professional football team, the New York Jets, and his favorite professional basketball team, the New York Knicks. Then during his second semester of his sophomore year, he began writing for FAU's student newspaper, the University Press, as a contributing writer. Justin now serves a News Writer Intern for the Boca Raton Tribune.

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