NEW ORLEANS — From one offensive coordinator-turned-head coach to another, Lane Kiffin’s advice to Ohio State’s Tom Herman is as simple as this: “Delegate.”
Kiffin, whose embattled, boomerang-like path as a head coach with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee, and USC circled back to an assistant role at Alabama, equips him with a certain understanding for the types of challenges that lie in making the jump from being a play-caller to running a program.
It's the kind of stuff Herman, who has accepted an offer to become Houston's next head coach after the College Football Playoff, will face soon.
“You’re hiring people to do a job, let them do it. Because, I don’t think I did a very good job of that and I think I tried to do too much and then you get spread too thin as opposed for (just doing) offense,” Kiffin told Eleven Warriors at Sugar Bowl Media Day in New Orleans.
“You know, let somebody run your offense. You may oversee it, just like Coach Saban — he’s got a great system. He’s got (Alabama defensive coordinator) Kirby (Smart). He knows the defense, he oversees it, but he lets Kirby run it so now he can do things like we’ve talked about: Go to other meetings, do other things so I think really delegating and letting people do their jobs.”
Kiffin, who was called upon by Nick Saban to rebrand the Crimson Tide's offense, said "managing the game is extremely different" for a head coach than it is for a coordinator. "Now, third down’s over and we’ve scored or whatever, from that second to the second we go back out on the field, I don’t leave (Alabama quarterback) Blake (Sims). You can’t do that as a head coach.”
As he digested and processed these differences, Kiffin — who is 40-36 in seven seasons as a head coach — said he consulted Seattle Seahawks and former USC coach Pete Carrol for advice.
"I would ask him, ‘What do you think?’ And he’d say, ‘I think you need to run an offense because I think the players need to feel you and expertise of calling the plays and diagramming the things.
"In the interaction, he goes, I think that’s of too much value for you to step back and just be the head coach."
It's something Herman will have to adjust to, too.