Pete Townshend once wrote, "Meet the new Lane Kiffin, same as the old Lane Kiffin."
For 1971, it was a prescient line considering the source.
Lane Kiffin is a brilliant offensive mind. Pete Carroll knew this when he brought the then-26-year-old son of Monte Kiffin onto his staff to coach his USC tight ends in 2001. By 2005, he, along with Steve Sarkisian, was running a highly potent offense that included two Heisman Trophy winners and a slew of future NFL players.
We know the history from then on: an out-of-tune version of "Dueling Banjos" with Al Davis in Oakland, a one-year stint in Knoxville that left many a home furnishing charred and an underwhelming return to Los Angeles that rendered him jobless on a tarmac in Arizona. We know this. It has been written.
What got lost in the shuffle when he became a head coach at the aforementioned stops is how steady he was as a sculptor of offensive talent. We forgot it, because Lane Kiffin the Head Coach was running rampant and that included a lot of this and this.
As a head coach, Kiffin perpetually had "senioritis." This happens when you're given the keys to a flailing NFL franchise at the age of 32 after only two years as a college offensive coordinator. It's that "too much too soon" philosophy that destroys careers. Add in perceived nepotism and you have nowhere to go but through a morass of Internet judgments and guest spots on College Gameday.
Since Alabama head coach Nick Saban brought him on as his offensive coordinator in 2014, though, Kiffin became the unassuming onfield playcaller of this and this. Oh, sure, he forecasted touchdowns on the sideline, but who among us hasn't done that in moments of rapture?
During his time as a head coach, Kiffin was BFFs with his Twitter account. He was among that first group of users who were trying feel out the site's actual purpose, where one would tweet something to the effect of, "Having lunch with the 'rents." Because life isn't difficult enough without having to summarize Tolstoy in 140 characters or less.
Then, writers, comedians, actors, musicians, etc. got ahold of it and Twitter became something else: a hotbed for clever and witty wordplay about the mundane existence of humans.
Over the last two years, Saban's "One Team, One Voice" policy of only the head coach speaking to the media has allowed Kiffin to rehabilitate his image a little bit. Having only to speak once before the season begins and once at the end, he focused solely on what he should've been focusing on the last decade: the offense.
It proved to be a successful look for him, too. Alabama signed him to a three-year agreement in 2014, he was a Broyles Award finalist for top assistant that year, Amari Cooper won the Biletnikoff for top receiver and, eventually, Derrick Henry won everything else. Like, all of it. Every sports award. He probably snagged an EGOT in there, too.
In the beginning at 'Bama, Kiffin rarely used his Twitter account. He kept himself (with a little help from Saban, I'm sure) on lockdown. Going into the second season, following a bite from the 49ers, he started to let loose a little. Nothing too ostentatious; a few tweets about the NFL Draft, the upcoming A-Day spring game and a curious Mother's Day greeting.
It seemed cute and relatively harmless. He was cool-guy Lane, Offensive Coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Give a boy a national championship ring and a final year of a contract, though, and, bless your soul, he becomes a MONSTER.
Have you seen his tweets since January? Here! Just peruse this page for a few minutes.
Notice the travelogue/recruiting photos of various transportation...
What about the trolling of rivals? Like you haven't upset Vol Nation enough, Lane. 'Bama plays in Knoxville this year. You have kids!
Subtlety was paramount, here, and Kiffin was judicious with his response.
Most entertaining of these recent tweets are the bitmojis. I had no idea what the hell a bitmoji was until a 41-year-old college football coach showed me. They're a tribute to himself, while also maintaining an Agatha-Christie-whodunit air about them.
Here, Coach Kiffin is paying homage to a celebration dance popularized by his current team's former nemesis. He's doing all of this in celebration that it's Wednesday. He's doing it as if he works for a man where the middle of the week actually means something.
Simple enough. You can see these first two were done on the same day, April 27. Kiffin is experimenting. Right now, he's "killing it." Where? How? Wouldn't you like to know.
Recruiting. It has to be. All I can think about is Saban and that restless leg of his sitting behind his desk staring at his Razr, while Kiffin takes the time to make these.
About what, exactly? That it's May 6th and Tosh Lupoi's Cinco de Mayo get-together was more of a rager that you were expecting?
SABAN: Lane, we're in a meeting. What are you doing on your phone?
KIFFIN: ...recruiting stuff? https://t.co/PqY0RFvnf2
— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) May 13, 2016
Finally, the tweet that occurred most likely after flipping former UK commit, Mac Jones. This is the one where you can see that Kiffin is coasting through finals to graduate from The Process. He's in campaign mode. He wants his head coaching job again. It's that swagger that's been relegated to the field for the past two seasons that's showing back up.
He's taking his show back on the road and with several big-name schools with coaches on the hot seat, he plans to be first on every AD's doorstep in hopes to translate his knowledge under Saban's strict program policies to the type of success he so dreamed of having when Al Davis first called him.
The 2016 season will be very interesting for Lane Kiffin. With yet another new quarterback to break in, but a slew of talented skill position guys, he should have Alabama's offense in a good position by year's end. And with that, a possible Power Five school taking a chance on a more mature coach.
Just you imagine the bitmoji output, then.