UPDATE: Jeremy Fowler on CBS Sports is reporting that Kiffin is interviewing with Alabama for the vacant offensive coordinator position this week, but is not the only candidate in the running.
The stars might be aligning in Tuscaloosa for Lane Kiffin’s return to the press box as an offensive coordinator. Following Doug Nussmeier’s move from Alabama to Michigan on Wednesday night, Kiffin has been a highly discussed name for the Crimson Tide, as mention by CBS Sports’s Bruce Feldman.
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 9, 2014
Kiffin had previously spent much of December in Tuscaloosa, workshopping with Nick Saban and Doug Nussmeier as they prepared for the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma.
When asked about Kiffin’s potential employment last month, Saban downplayed it, as quoted by Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com.
Lane is a terrific offensive coach and I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit with some professional ideas with our guys, I think is a real positive thing. And I don’t know why there’s any reaction to it, to be honest with you. I’m really quite surprised.
That of course was before Nussmeier’s departure. But as of now, it’s just smoke, making Kiffin a name in the discussion. Other candidates include former UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, former Saban assistant and current Bears assistant Mike Groh, and current Alabama wide receivers coach Billy Napier.
Then there’s Clay Helton, who Steve Sarkisian just re-hired as the Trojans’ offensive coordinator last month. According to Roussel, he’s an “outside shot” at Alabama, which could be just mere speculation on his part. As evidence of potential interest, Roussel mentions a past connection: “Saban once offered Helton a position on his staff at LSU, but Helton opted to remain at the University of Memphis.”
Is that really a possible situation? Who knows. Right now, it looks like Clay Helton is at USC for the foreseeable future, and there’s plenty of candidates available for Alabama that it would seem unlikely that Saban would feel the need to make a power play for Helton, who isn’t exactly a top commodity in that sense that Clemson’s Chad Morris is.