BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
As soon as the news broke, UAB fans were fantasizing about what could be a unique match of wits: Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin coaching against their man Bill Clark.
Blazer fans would like nothing better to see their too-often-ignored football team trounce the pretty boy in a beat down at Legion Field. Remember, FAU, like UAB, is in Conference-USA.
The catch? The UAB Nation may have to wait a few years for a UAB-FAU game to be played.
UAB football coach Bill Clark tells me that while he admires the play-calling ability of the soon-to-be-departed Alabama offensive coordinator and would love to face him, a UAB-FAU game may not take place until 2019.
You see, while the Blazers' Conference-USA schedule for 2017 has yet to be made official, we do know that UAB is in the CUSA's western division while FAU is in the eastern division.
The Blazers will play two crossover games against eastern division teams in 2017 and 2018, and those teams will be Middle Tennessee and Charlotte.
Once 2019 arrives, a new set of crossover games will be penciled in. That's when Blazer fans are hoping to get a shot at Kiffin (that is, if Kiffin is hasn't left the Owls' team by then).
Regardless of the Clark-Kiffin angle, Clark tells me it's an exciting time on the Southside, as he continues to stock his team toward that magical number of 85 players.
While Clark can't give me specifics about what recruits he has signed, he did tell me that with growing numbers he can now focus on more specific needs, filling in the gaps of what should be a 2017 team that will turn heads.
I can tell you that Clark is coming off a huge recruiting weekend in which he landed verbal commitments from seven players. Players such as:
- Anthony Rush, a 335 lb defensive lineman from NE Mississippi CC
- Cedric Battle, a 180 lb running back from Trinity Valley CC in Texas
- Jonathan Haden, a 195 lb running back from Prince George CC, a kid who began his collegiate career at Arizona
If Clark can keep many of these commits academically eligible, he is going to have a monster team in 2017. And the coach wants you to know that the Green and Gold spring game will be held next April 1 at Legion Field.
And Lane Kiffin? Critics wonder aloud if he can be a successful head coach, as he has yet to prove so in his three previous head coaching gigs.
On paper, Kiffin's head coaching progression seems to going in the wrong direction.
Think about it: He had head coaching jobs with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Vols and Southern Cal Trojans before he turned 35. Now he's the head coach at Florida Atlantic at the age of 41.
His head coaching history is not impressive: He lasted 20 games with the Raiders in 2007 and 2008, going 5-15.
He was 7-6 in 2009, his lone season at Tennessee, and he was fired on the tarmac in 2013 five games into the season as he coached the Southern Cal Trojans. Is he ready to lead again?
Nick Saban thinks so, as he has said as much on numerous occasions.
But what do you expect Saban to say? "Well, I really don't think the guy is head coaching material -- he needs to out come from his office more often and improve his attitude."
The bottom line here is that the Saban-Kiffin relationship has sailed, and Kiffin has a new head coaching job.
Why FAU? Why not? Kiffin is making $1.4 million at Alabama and could approach a salary of $3 million at FAU, thus doubling his salary.
My guess? He stays a few years at FAU and bolts for a big-time head coaching job like Texas A&M. (Do you really think Kevin Sumlin is a long-termer at College Station?)
Here's hoping that Kiffin hangs at FAU for a few more years than that--for UAB fans would love to see the Owls face the Blazers sometime down the road.
It would be then that they'd have a chance to kick Lane Kiffin down Graymont Avenue after a big win over the Owls.