Lane Kiffin Makes Shrewd Move With Kendal Briles Hire

New FAU head coach Lane Kiffin found his OC. Baylor’s Kendal Briles will join the Owls after the Bears’ Cactus Bowl game against Boise State.

Lane Kiffin’s hire of Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic should go down as one of the better hires of the offseason.

The new FAU head coach is giving the former Baylor OC full control of the Owls’ offense—including play-calling—which will allow Kiffin to settle into his role as CEO of the program. That’s a big step for the former Alabama OC, who is getting the chance to rehab his head-coaching career in Boca Raton.

Briles, who will join FAU after Baylor’s game against Boise State on Tuesday in the Cactus Bowl, brings a wealth of experience to the Conference USA program. The son of former Baylor head coach Art Briles spent the past nine seasons in Waco, including the past two as offensive coordinator. Before his stint as OC, he helped the Bears’ offense rank in the Top 5 nationally for four consecutive seasons as the team’s passing game coordinator. He remained on the Bears’ staff this year even after his father was dismissed in the spring after the sexual-assault scandal that has rocked the campus.

Last season, Briles was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is given to the nation’s top assistant coach. That same year he was suspended by Baylor for the season-opening game as a self-imposed sanction in connection to a recruiting violation, which the NCAA announced earlier this week. The NCAA stated that Briles and another Baylor assistant attempted to find loopholes in the NCAA rule book in order to gain an advantage in recruiting. Before hiring Briles, FAU checked with the NCAA and Baylor and found no issues that would affect his status in his new gig.

New Baylor head coach Matt Rhule is not likely to retain any of the assistants on the old staff, so Briles became one of the more intriguing names on the coaching market. He had reportedly received interest from several other programs, including Notre Dame, Auburn and Oregon. But the pairing with Kiffin at FAU is huge for both parties.

The hire allows Kiffin to oversee the entire team and operation rather than worrying about offensive play-calling. And it gives the 34-year-old Briles, who is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football, a chance to further build his resume and possibly get a head gig sooner than later.

Expect the FAU offense to very much look like the up-tempo units we saw at Baylor, Tulsa and Syracuse this past fall. And that should make for a fun watch for Owls fans.

So far, Kiffin is pushing all of the right buttons in his new gig. The rest of C-USA better beware, because this is a program that should rise up the league standings quite rapidly if Kiffin’s able to translate what he learned under Nick Saban into a successful stint in his return to a head-coaching role.

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