Does anybody out there, including Scott Frost and Nebraska, want a piece of UCF now?

Scott Frost won’t be scheduling UCF any time soon.

Now that he’s the coach at Nebraska, Frost is like everyone else at a Power Five school. It makes no sense for him to tangle with the Knights.

ATLANTA – Kam Martin of the Auburn Tigers is tackled by the UCF Knights in the second half during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Not saying that new UCF coach Josh Heupel will finish unbeaten in 2018, the way Frost did there in 2017, but if the Knights have enough talent to beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl, they are good enough to win in any league.

This 34-27 upset of Auburn came as a bigger surprise to me than UCF’s 52-42 Fiesta Bowl win over No. 6 Baylor four years ago. That Baylor team didn’t play much defense, but Auburn definitely does.

The Tigers limited Alabama and Georgia to a combined total of 31 points in upset wins over the two teams in Monday night’s national championship game. And then UCF goes out and scores 34 on them in one night?

I was wrong to think that the supposed step up in class would be so great. Wrong to think that a limited number of ranked opponents in the regular season would prove the Knights to be unworthy of a top-10 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. Wrong, in general, to think that any college team with a ton of momentum would shrink from an opportunity to build its national brand tenfold with a convincing bowl win.

So, should UCF have a spot in the national title game? Can’t go that far. Not after watching Alabama roll Clemson’s defending champs and not after what Ohio State and Wisconsin did in their bowls.

Miami belongs below the Knights, however, in any final reckoning for 2017, and Miami just had one of its best seasons in many years. Florida and FSU don’t even rate a mention beyond saying that they don’t rate a mention, and USF is scrambling to stay up.

Here are a few interesting notes on UCF in 2018.

The Knights play FAU on Sept. 22 in Orlando. That’s more than a date with Lane Kiffin. It’s a matchup between the two teams with the longest active win streaks in Div. I. Thirteen in a row for UCF and 10 for FAU.

Also next September the Knights travel to North Carolina and play Pittsburgh at home. If Frost were sticking around, you could chalk both of those up as wins over major-conference opponents, but we’ll have to see.

Also, Nebraska has a pretty full slate of non-conference games schedule through 2022 and there is no mention of UCF. Frost might try to change that at some point as a favor to the program he loved enough to work the Peach Bowl after taking another job, but is it worth it?

Back in 1997, when Frost was the quarterback of Nebraska’s 13-0 national title team, UCF came to Lincoln for a September game and hung pretty tough in a 38-24 loss.

That same season Nebraska beat Oklahoma 69-7, pounded Iowa State 77-14 and dominated Texas A&M 54-15 in the Big 12 title game.

The Knights’ football program was in its second season at the time, and with Daunte Culpepper at quarterback. Dangerous almost from the start.

[Jeter missed the memo on how fed up Marlins fans are with fire sales]

[It’s OK to start wondering again if Tiger will play the Honda Classic]

[Bobby made FSU seem a dream destination but Jimbo didn’t feel it]

Don’t know what Miami will get from Syracuse, the team that lost to Middle Tennessee

 

College football is the world’s grandest carousel. You can laugh yourself silly riding on it, or throw up and wind up screaming to get off, or simply stumble away dizzy and a little unclear on what just happened. All on the same Saturday afternoon.

These random and ridiculous thoughts come to me as No. 8 Miami prepares to play Syracuse on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. There are a couple of ways Mark Richt could play this.

SYRACUSE, NY – OCTOBER 13: Ervin Philips of the Syracuse Orange celebrates their 27-24 upset win over Clemson Tigers after fans storm the field at the Carrier Dome on October 13, 2017. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

He might say “Syracuse just beat Clemson, the defending national champion, so that means the Orange are as good as anyone in America.”

He might say “Syracuse lost to Middle Tennessee, and Middle Tennessee lost to Florida Atlantic, and FAU hasn’t had a winning season since the guys on our team outgrew trick-or-treating, so that means the Orange must be as bad as anyone in America.”

You know he won’t use that second option, but he could.

Likewise, Lane Kiffin could point FAU toward Saturday’s game with North Texas and build off the Owls’ recent 58-28 rout of Old Dominion. Here’s how that fictional rallying cry might go.

“Men, I’m going to be mightily disappointed if we have to settle for 58 points this week. North Texas got beat 54-32 by SMU last month. Then SMU went out and gave up 56 points to TCU. Now you tell me why we shouldn’t score 80 this week, and why I shouldn’t be benching some starters if we fall short.”

No, that would be stupid, and it’s nothing short of rat poison for me even to suggest it.

You just can’t build logical chains with these results, or else you wind up with something like this.

LSU beat Auburn.

Troy beat LSU.

South Alabama beat Troy.

South Alabama’s only other win this year is against an FCS team, Alabama A&M.

Conclusion: South Alabama should schedule Auburn for homecoming next year. Of course, that would never happen, and, of course, that would end very badly for South Alabama.

One more thought on Miami vs. Syracuse before we go.

In 1998, when those two teams were members of the Big East, I covered a game at the Carrier Dome in which the Orange utterly destroyed the Hurricanes 66-13 to clinch the conference title. Couldn’t have been more shocking, or more dangerous for what Butch Davis was trying to build. So what happened next?

Miami upset UCLA, then No. 3 in the AP poll, the following week. Syracuse, meanwhile, got rolled 31-10 by Florida in the Orange Bowl game.

That’s the way the carousel spins. It’s why Richt can legitimately say of the 2017 Hurricanes, “We’re a very, very solid football team that’s fighting like mad just to win the close battles.”

Clearly, he’s been around, and around, and around.

[Offensive line was stable foundation for Shula teams, but it’s gone sour now]

[Flying high again with the ever-changing Central Florida Knights]

[Even UM’s greatest teams learned how tough it is to run the table]

How to lavishly spend the 2017 college football season on the road and in the doghouse

 

With unlimited funds and unlimited time, wouldn’t it be fun to attend as many games involving Florida’s college football teams as possible?

Something to think about on a lazy summer day, with a preferred list of 2017 games to follow.

New South Florida head coach Charlie Strong  (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Don’t think about it too long, however. My guess is that merely committing to watch each and every one of these games on the man cave’s big screen would be the end to most marriages.

 

Saturday, Aug. 26 – South Florida at San Jose State (Charlie Strong’s USF debut)

Thursday, Aug. 31 – Florida International at Central Florida (Butch Davis’ FIU debut)

Friday, Sept. 1 – Navy at Florida Atlantic (Lane Kiffin’s FAU debut)

Saturday, Sept. 2 – Florida State vs. Alabama at Atlanta (Why, oh why, does Florida-Michigan have to be on the same day?)

Saturday, Sept. 9 – Miami at Arkansas State (Red Wolves crushed UCF in bowl game last year)

Friday, Sept. 15 – Illinois at USF (Illini went 3-9 last year but beating Big Ten team has certain cachet)

Saturday, Sept. 16 – Miami at FSU (Catch first half of Tennessee at Florida on the way to Tallahassee)

Thursday, Sept. 21 – Temple at USF (Weeknight games good for Bulls’ exposure)

Saturday, Sept. 23 – North Carolina State at FSU (Seminoles needed late rally for 24-20 win last year)

Friday, Sept. 29 – Miami at Duke (Division rival and often a pain in the ACC for Miami)

Saturday, Sept. 30 – Florida State at Wake Forest (End-zone interception secured close win on Seminoles’ last trip there)

Saturday, Oct. 7 – LSU at Florida (Goal-line stand against Tigers clinched SEC East for Gators in 2016)

Thursday, Oct. 12 – Georgia Tech at Miami (2nd straight week on ESPN national telecast for Mark Richt)

Saturday, Oct. 14 – Texas A&M at Florida (First trip to Swamp for Aggies, who joined SEC in 2012)

Saturday, Oct. 21 – Louisville at FSU (Cardinals put 63 points on Seminoles behind Heisman winner Lamar Jackson last year)

Friday, Oct. 27 – FSU at Boston College (Short week after Louisville showdown)

Saturday, Oct. 28 – Florida vs. Georgia at Jacksonville (Sooner or later Bulldogs are going to be good)

Saturday, Nov. 4 – Virginia Tech at Miami (If Miami ever wins the Coastal, it will be a game like this that does it)

Saturday, Nov. 11 – FSU at Clemson (Tigers are defending national champions)

Thursday, Nov. 16 – Tulsa at USF (Will Charlie Strong have the Bulls in the Top Ten by this point?)

Saturday, Nov. 18 – FIU at FAU (Butch vs. Kiffin in battle for major recruiting coup)

Friday, Nov. 24 – Miami at Pittsburgh (Stop grumbling about Thanksgiving travel and get to the airport)

Saturday, Nov. 25 – FSU at Florida (Would be nice to see this game mean a lot to both teams again)

 

That’s all of the schedule we know right now. The conference champions follow in December and then the College Football Playoff and the bowls.

Would you be sick of college football after traveling to all of those games? No problem. Just switch to the NFL in 2018.

 

 

 

Let Lane Kiffin be your guide to healthier, happier living

I finally found something Lane Kiffin is doing at Florida Atlantic in the same way that former Owls coach Charlie Partridge did it.

On Saturday, March 18, Kiffin is scheduled to appear at Mizner Park Amphitheater in downtown Boca Raton as part of WPEC’s annual Health and Wellness Experience.

BOCA RATON – Lane Kiffin, head coach of Florida Atlantic University football, shakes hands with Spanish River football coach Bill Ceasar at FAU Stadium on December 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

This is purely community relations stuff. It’s an event free to the public featuring cooking demonstrations and glucose screenings and vendor exhibits, with everything geared toward educating families on the healthiest options available to them.

No recruiting advantage to a head coach showing up there, in other words, just a chance to meet and greet some of the locals and maybe encourage them to come out and watch a football game or two at FAU’s beautiful new stadium.

Partridge was good at this, working the FAU Coach’s Corner at the wellness festival while kids ran cone drills and tackled dummies and threw footballs at targets. If Kiffin is up for a little bit of that duty, and he’s scheduled to be there from 1 to 1:30 p.m., that’s a good thing.

It will highlight the FAU program for potential ticket-buyers with the beginning of spring practice just around the corner on March 21. There’s the FAU spring game to promote, too. That’s scheduled for April 22.

[No reason Heat should be doing what they’re doing, and the ride’s not over]

[NCAA berths weren’t automatic for UM during Rick Barry’s golden era]

[Reliving Wilt’s 100-point night, with two PB County eyewitnesses]

Too many people in South Florida are unaware that Div. I college football is even happening in Boca Raton. If Kiffin, the former head coach of USC and Tennessee and the Oakland Raiders, doesn’t already know that, he needs to know. Interactions with the general public, not just FAU boosters, can only help in that regard.

The question now is who will be the biggest celebrity at Mizner Park that day as measured by the size of the crowds around them. Could be Kiffin. Could be Kevin Frazier, the co-host of Entertainment Tonight, who also is scheduled to appear.

Remember, this is Boca Raton, not Tuscaloosa, where working as offensive coordinator was more than enough to make Kiffin a major star with Alabama fans. The answer is not immediately obvious.

 

 

 

Lane Kiffin says that FAU’s new QB is moving past old troubles

We don’t get to hear from Lane Kiffin that often, at least outside of tweets and videos and such. So far he has addressed the South Florida media twice, on the December day he was introduced as Florida Atlantic football coach and again for Wednesday’s announcement of the Owls’ 2017 signing class.

Lane Kiffin is introduced as the new Florida Atlantic football coach on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Lane Kiffin is introduced as the new Florida Atlantic football coach on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

It’s important, then, to get the best questions in first, such as what does he think about De’Andre Johnson, the quarterback who was dismissed by Florida State in 2015 after being caught on security video punching a woman at a Tallahassee bar.

A plea deal followed, with probation plus a fine and 10 days in a sheriff’s work program to put those legal issues behind him. Johnson, a former four-star recruit, played last year at East Mississippi Junior College, a program featured as “Last Chance U” in a Netflix documentary, and signed with FAU a few days before Kiffin was hired there.

“I’ve had a chance to be around him a little bit,” Kiffin said Wednesday, “and also to see him around our recruits. Every weekend that we’ve been here, he’s opened his door and showed our recruits where he stays. He’s hosted guys every weekend.

“He’s a very humble kid, and I also got to go to his junior college because we ended up signing a player from there (defensive end Tim Bonner) and go to meet with the people there. Not just the head coach but the president of the university. The way they talked about him, he’s a really special kid that had a really bad decision that he made and has really learned from it and he’s moving forward, so I’m excited that he’s being given this opportunity.”

Kiffin went heavy on the signing of junior-college transfers, including wide receiver/tight end DeAndre McNeal. He played for Texas as a true freshman but was dismissed for an unspecified violation of team rules. UCLA and Missouri were among the teams offering 2017 scholarships to McNeal  but Kiffin won out.

“DeAndre was a tough get,” Kiffin said. “He did some major offers. Kind of at the last minute it came down to us and UCLA. That was kind of tough for him because he had west-coast ties from playing junior college out there (at Fullerton College).

“We had some background with him, which is why I hire coaches, because they have backgrounds. So he had been in our camp at Alabama and I had worked with him there and had a plan for him there and we ended up signing him for that reason. He’d always been a guy that I had a plan for, how we’d play him. We always wanted him every time I saw him. Now he can come play in the offense here and work with (offensive coordinator) Kendal Briles, who has been successful with receivers.

“It makes it pretty easy to recruit receivers if you’ve been fortunate to have a lot of really good receivers. Myself and Kendal have coached a lot of good receivers.”

Briles, who will handle FAU’s playcalling, is another scrutinized addition because he last worked at Baylor. Kiffin declined comment when asked about an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Baylor football players against women between 2011 and 2014.

“We obviously have a policy of not discussing any allegations at any other university,” Kiffin said. “Today’s focus is on our signing class, and we’re excited about that class and we’re excited about our coaching staff. I thought we brought a very dynamic coaching staff here and, as you can see, guys are excited about playing for them.”

[Super Bowl LI starters who got stiffed on National Signing Day]

[Some candy to treat Dolphin fans sick of Pats in Super Bowl]

[Wondering if Dolphins’ No. 22 draft slot is haunted]

It won’t every be boring with Kiffin in Boca Raton. Most major recruiting sites ranked his first FAU signing class as the best in Conference USA. Some of these junior-college transfers will surpass the talent level commonly found in the league. Now it’s a matter of getting everybody on target with everything from grades to discipline to motivation.

If Kiffin wishes, he can relate to things he learned about tightening down on those goals while working for Nick Saban at Alabama. Or he can forge his own path. Again.

 

Lane Kiffin’s breakup with Alabama before national title game does FAU no favors

 

Lane Kiffin always was an odd fit at Alabama.

You can’t say it was a bad fit. Not even close. Not with College Football Playoff appearances all three years he was the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator and a shot a second straight national title for Alabama next week. If Kiffin was doing a lousy job, Nick Saban would have kicked him to the curb right away.

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31: Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Head Coach Nick Saben of the Alabama Crimson Tide walk during pre game of the 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 31: Former offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Head Coach Nick Saban talk during pre game of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2016. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

When the announcement came Monday, however, that Kiffin won’t be calling plays for the championship game against Clemson, the personality gap between this flashy, me-first coach and every other Saban assistant was made evident one last time.

“We made the decision because it was in the best interest of our players, our program and for Lane for him to assume his duties at Florida Atlantic,” Saban said. “We mutually agreed that this was best for both programs.”

Compare that to what Saban was saying about Kirby Smart last January, back when Georgia had already hired Alabama’s former defensive coordinator as head coach but Smart was permitted to stay with the Tide through the College Football Playoff title game against Clemson.

“You know, it’s sort of like you have a son and he’s moving away, and you want to see him do really, really well,” Saban said of Smart at the time.

“I certainly appreciate the fact that he’s stuck here with us and done a really good job as far as trying to finish this year for our players. I think that’s the number one reason that he’s here.”

The Georgia job is a whole lot bigger than FAU, with more impactful recruiting energy to be spent in keeping up with the SEC neighbors. Yet Smart saw the value of standing in the confetti shower of a national championship celebration and decided to do it the hard way, postponing many of his new duties at Georgia to get his hands on another trophy at Alabama.

“Kids see it,” Smart said after Alabama beat Clemson 45-40, not exactly his greatest night as a coordinator but a trophy moment all the same. “They identify with it. Me being on TV and being in the national championship did way more for me tonight than say somebody who wasn’t.”

Now Kiffin joins the vast majority coaches who won’t be on the field at Tampa next Monday when Alabama and Clemson do it again.

That’s too bad for him and too bad for FAU, which can use every precious syllable of network TV conversation in the raising of its Div. I football profile. That’s why the Owls hired Kiffin in the first place. Win games in the fall, sure, but get people talking all year round.

[Some leftover nuggets from Lane Kiffin’s introduction at FAU]

[The Lane Kiffin revival tent puts down stakes in Boca Raton]

[Lamar Jackson’s Heisman campaign drew comparisons to Tim Tebow’s]

What caused the breakup at this critical moment for Alabama football? Probably nothing major, but when you lose focus on Saban’s objectives for even an instant, that’s a tidal wave of trouble in Tuscaloosa.

A couple of times Kiffin was late to meetings prior to the Peach Bowl national semifinal, including Media Day, when he missed the bus back to the team hotel. Then, in an easy win over Washington, the Alabama offense was good but not great.

Couldn’t have helped, either, when Sports Illustrated came out with a long article about Kiffin house-hunting in Boca Raton during Christmas week, with $4 million waterfront homes on his target list so that boats and jet-skis will always be at the ready.

Made me think of the more common SEC coaching profile, Will Muschamp. When he was plucked off Texas’ staff to be head coach of the Florida Gators, Muschamp lived in a Gainesville hotel for several months while waiting on his family to finish school and join him. All work, no play, the Saban way.

That takes us back to that recent SI story. While referencing the relative social isolation of life in Tuscaloosa, Kiffin told the writer who tagged along on his house search, “This will come across wrong, but it’s like dog years. Three years is like 21.”

He knew it would come out wrong but he said it anyway. That’s Kiffin, who always goes back to smooth things over, but the joke too frequently is on him.

Why would a guy who desperately needed the structure of Saban’s system to restore credibility to his own career get sloppy the moment that the payoff of a new job is secured? It doesn’t say much about the maturity that Kiffin supposedly has gained since his days at Tennessee and USC, or about his stated desire at the FAU introductory press conference to keep it boring for a while.

None of this means, of course, that Kiffin can’t be successful at FAU, or that the Owls won’t benefit from his magnetism and his coaching, or that Nick Saban regrets the modernization that Kiffin brought to the Alabama offense.

The bottom line is that Kiffin has been quiet for a long time. It’s bound to get noisy at FAU, and fast, because the goal is to keep him around for more than a few crazy headlines, and it’s unlikely that anyone over there is going to have the nerve to tell him to tone it down or else.

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for more on Lane Kiffin coming to FAU, there’s always more

 

There was a lot left over from my print column on Lane Kiffin’s introductory press conference at Florida Atlantic on Tuesday. Here are a few highlights.

  • Howard Schnellenberger, the program’s founder, was briefly acknowledged with a round of applause at the press conference on the third floor suite level of FAU Stadium but he did not address the crowd. As anyone who ever has stepped onto that campus knows, Howard never passes on an opportunity to address a crowd.

Howard told me “I have now almost officially stepped down from my job as ambassador-at-large at FAU. I’m just about retired. Most everybody knows it now. I haven’t been to the office for about a month.”

Lane Kiffin is introduced as the new Florida Atlantic football coach on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Lane Kiffin is introduced as the new Florida Atlantic football coach on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

There is no FAU football without Schnellenberger, who coached the team for its first 11 seasons (2001-11) and was the prime force behind drawing the plans and raising the funds for the on-campus stadium that helps to make the program so attractive to a guy like Kiffin.

At this moment his vision for the Owls is transitioning into someone else’s, providing Kiffin is up to staying around a while and seeing it through.

“I did a Google on him (Kiffin) and he’s sure got a great resume,” Howard said. “He looks to be a decent young man. He’s got a bunch of big gamily. He’s doing all the right things that the best of coaches have done, being a good father, a good teacher, and more importantly being a good provider and leader of his own family.”

Asked if he thought this would work between Kiffin and FAU, Howard said “It worked for me. It looked like it had to be done. This was the heart of paradise.”

[The Lane Kiffin revival tent is coming to FAU]

[Might as well let ESPN directly manage the College Football Playoff process]

[Lamar Jackson’s Heisman campaign draws comparisons to Tebow’s]

  • I asked Kiffin what his image of the FAU football program was four or five years ago and he said, “I didn’t have an image, really, because there was no recruiting against it. I was at USC or Tennessee and a little bit Alabama. I didn’t do a ton of South Florida recruiting. Did more Central and North Florida.”

Kiffin also said he wasn’t aware of FAU opening a new on-campus stadium when it happened in 2011.

“Coaches talk about facilities all the time,” he said. “Are they important? Yes, but I don’t buy into that as much as some coaches do. I’d rather have a president who wants the football program to win and understands that when the football program wins, it impacts the whole university. I’d rather have that than a bigger weight room.”

  • Along those lines, listen to this from FAU President John Kelly, who sounds like a guy who will approve of Kiffin’s crazy pace.

“Every day we wake up with what we call ‘Unbridled Ambition,’ “ Kelly said. “You see it on the sign behind me. ‘Unbridled Ambition’ means that you have a fire in your belly. You have an intensity. You refuse to lose.

“It means that when you go to work you wish you were there all the time and when you got to sleep, you will wish you were working.”

Before he was finished rolling, Kelly introduced Kiffin as “the top person in the country, the genius in coaching.” No pressure, Lane.

  • Kiffin calls the plays for Nick Saban’s offense at Alabama but he did not say if he would do the same at FAU. He talked instead of learning how to be a CEO by watching Saban. We’ll have to see if he can trust his offense to anyone else, but Kiffin inferred he may institute at least one of Saban’s fastest rules – no media contact with assistant coaches to insure that there is one message and that it comes from him.
  • Kiffin said he would work for Alabama during the day while preparations for the College Football Playoff semifinals are ongoing but will make phone calls and study film on behalf of FAU at night, when the Crimson Tide coaches go home.

He said he might interview candidates for the FAU staff while still in Tuscaloosa, including some of Alabama’s current assistants.

  • Kiffin apologized a bit for putting on a “boring press conference,” short on big promises and his famous tweaking of rival schools. He said “There will be no talk. It will be about work.”

He clearly feels good, though, about the magnetism that goes with his reputation as a coach and a bit of a rebel. What else would you expect from a man with 231,000 followers on Twitter?

“Bringing name recognition is one of the things we want to do,” Kiffin said, “and it’s already happening.

“Recruits that probably would not have looked here are already texting or calling to say, ‘Hey, can I get down there to see you?’ Coaches are already saying, ‘Hey, I’m willing to come there even though it’s maybe a paycut or a smaller program than I’m already at because of the excitement we already know is coming there and what you’re going to be able to do there.”

 

The Lane Kiffin revival tent is coming to FAU

Florida Atlantic knows what it is getting in Lane Kiffin, who quit an SEC head coaching job at Tennessee after one season and soon will be telling area recruits that he’s committed to the Owls heart and soul.

Kiffin is the guy who once offended the entire community of Pahokee by portraying their home as a place where people don’t have enough money “to even have shoes or a shirt on,” yet soon he’ll be out in western Palm Beach County trying to scoop up players from the Blue Devils’ 2016 state championship team.

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31: Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin for the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl against the Michigan State Spartans at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Former Alabama offensive coordinator and new Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

He’s a maker of headlines, primarily related to the major coaching jobs that have been given and then taken away from him, and even after having his reputation scrubbed by living and winning under Nick Saban’s strict rule at Alabama, he wasn’t able to convince Houston and South Florida to commit their rising programs to his care.

So FAU knows all of this about Kiffin, and supposedly more after a weekend of negotiations, but the Owls are hiring him anyway. A news conference to announce his hiring is reportedly scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The school needs someone who can push them past three wins per season, and honestly if Kiffin can’t do that, they should just drop the sport and convert that beautiful new stadium into a roofed concert venue.

FAU needs a coach who can fight it out with Butch Davis, FIU’s new boss, and Charlie Strong, South Florida’s new coach, for the kids that the heavyweight programs at FSU, Florida and Miami don’t get.

FAU needs, more than anything else, a reason for people to care that they have a football program in the first place.

It’s a shotgun wedding of sorts, with Kiffin falling all the way down to Conference USA in his hunt for head coaching redemption, but they’re hitched, the Owls and the prowler, and here’s hoping this lasts longer than a similar union did between Bobby Petrino and Western Kentucky.

Those two came together in 2013 when Petrino got fired by Arkansas over ethical issues and needed a place to start over. One 8-4 season at Western Kentucky was all he needed, and now Petrino is at Louisville with Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson for his quarterback.

It could happen just as quickly for Kiffin, for the reason that everything happens quickly for him.

[Might as well just let ESPN directly manage College Football Playoff selection]

[Lamar Jackson’s Heisman campaigns draws some comparisons to Tebow]

[FSU keeping Jimbo is program’s most important news since hiring Jimbo]

He was head coach of the Oakland Raiders at 31. A hero at Tennessee for tweaking Urban Meyer but a villain just one year later for taking what he deemed a promotion at USC. Now three seasons into a successful offensive coordinator stint that had Alabama fans loving him, Kiffin is gone again to be a head coach, but only after flirting with as assistant’s job at LSU, the Crimson Tide’s bitter SEC West rival.

Is this good for FAU? Of course.

Even if Kiffin follows form, setting up the old revival tent and then tearing it down in the middle of the night to skip town for somewhere else, there will be a wave of national media visiting Boca Raton next summer to do stand-ups in front of the school’s fine facilities and waving palm trees.

Even if he postpones most of the heavy-lifting on this new job until mid-January, every mention and every image of Kiffin during Alabama’s College Football Playoff run will include the name of FAU.

Even if Kiffin puts his foot in his mouth over something, or gets the NCAA enforcement division riled up, or simply finds that there isn’t enough talent in the program to push Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion out of the way in this league, the Owls still will have taken their biggest home-run swing since agreeing to let Howard Schnellenberger sell his original concept of football in paradise.

And if it turns out that Kiffin has matured to the point that he really can teach FAU players about doing things the right way and earning every success, that would be a fine surprise.

Fun is the operative word at this moment, however. Kiffin makes FAU football fun, in the way that storm chasers have fun. There is danger. There is drama. There is power in all its magnetic glory.

Watch it up close or from a distance but as long as Kiffin is there, you’ll watch it. He’s not the kind of man anyone has ever been able to ignore.