By: David DiPino Contributing Writer
Florida Atlantic University’s new head football coach is all about giving players a second chance or another shot at success.
Coach Kiffin has experienced a second chance himself, and now national sports reporters are flocking to the Owls Tom Oxley Athletic Center to get information on Coach Kiffin’s list of player’s vying for another shot. Yahoo Sports recently dubbed FAU “Another Chance U,” SB Nation has titled the Owls program “Last Chance U.” Coach Kiffin and his new football coaching staff have brought in 34 players as Owls in 2017, none of whom played for FAU last season.
“I’ve always believed in second chances,” Coach Kiffin said after a sweltering mid-August football practice at the Tom Oxley Athletic Center on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. “They’re young kids – and it’s not like these players needed second chances because they made major mistakes. Some decided to go to junior college, some had (other) issues.”
But Coach Kiffin alluded to all were deserving of a second chance. He talked about “teaching culture and expectations” he wants his football players to follow closely to this mantra on an everyday basis.
“When you’re a Division I football player you’re held to higher standards especially as students,” Coach Kiffin said. “I like how our players are playing… It’s creating a lot of competition. I like where we are mentally we just need to focus on getting stronger physically. Part of that culture is winning football games.”
FAU has only won nine games in three years.
One of those players getting a second chance is DeAndre McNeal, a tight end from Mesquite, Texas, who played at Fullerton College in California, a community college in Fullerton, CA, last season.
“Coach Kiffin is a great coach,” McNeal, a junior, said.
Coach Kiffin’s father Monte Kiffin is on the FAU staff as defensive analyst and pro liaison. Coach Monte Kiffin was a Super Bowl Champion of Super Bowl XXXVII as a defensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coach Monte Kiffin coached the Buccanneers as defensive coordinator form 1996-2008. He coached North Carolina State University Wolfpack to a 16-17 record from 1980-1982. Monte Kiffin is also the creator of the famed “Tampa Cover 2” defense.
Coach Lane Kiffin, 42, played as a quarterback for the Fresno State University Bulldogs from 1994-1996, and coached the Bulldogs as an assistant coach from 1997-1998. In 1999, Coach Kiffin was a graduate assistant at Colorado State University, in 2000 and was an offensive quality control for the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars, in 2001. Coach Kiffin returned to college football to take a job with the University of Southern California Trojans (USC) as their tight end coach, from 2002-2004 was the Trojans wide receiver coach, from 2005-2006 was the offensive coordinator for USC. For the 2007-2008 football season, Coach Kiffin jumped back to the NFL to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, but in 2009 returned to college football to be the head football coach at the University of Tennessee, followed by a three-year stint back to USC to be head coach from 2010-2013.
In 2014, Coach Kiffin took a job as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Alabama for the Crimson Tide and won the national championship in 2015 after going 14-1 and winning the Cotton Bowl. Reports state Coach Kiffin made $1.4 million as an offensive coordinator at Alabama and will earn $1 Million a season as Coach of the Owls. Coach Kiffin has a winning record of 35-21 in college football yet has never won a bowl game as a head coach (0-2) and 5-15 record in the NFL.
Florida Atlantic University Owls 2017 College Football Season (Conference USA) (David DiPino’s prediction FAU wins 8 games, 4 losses, Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl appearance, Dallas, Texas, Dec. 26, TBA, FAU 38 Kansas State Wildcats 37) –
Friday, Sept. 1, vs. Navy at FAU, FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 9, at Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., 12 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 16, vs. Bethune Cookman, FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 23, at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, TBA
Saturday, Sept. 30, vs. Middle Tennessee State University, FAU Stadium in Boca Raton TBA
Saturday, Oct. 7, at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA., 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 21, vs. North Texas, FAU Stadium in Boca Raton TBA
Saturday, Oct. 28, at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky 4:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 3, vs. Marshall University, FAU Stadium in Boca Raton 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 11, at Louisiana Tech, Ruffin, LA, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18, vs. FIU (Shula Bowl) FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 25 at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, 2 p.m.