Lane Kiffin: Pete Carroll creates an atmosphere of ‘want to’ versus ‘have to’
Lane Kiffin doesn’t remember doing this, but he absolutely bit Pete Carroll’s son.
Granted, the current Florida Atlantic head coach was a child at the time. But the experience highlights just how long Kiffin has known the Carroll family (we’re sure he and Brennan Carroll are on better terms now).
Kiffin joined Danny, Dave and Moore on 710 ESPN Seattle Thursday to talk about his impressive first season coaching Florida Atlantic football and his history with Pete Carroll.
Kiffin’s father, renowned NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, originally hired a then-25 year old Pete Carroll as a graduate assistant at Arkansas (Carroll has credited Kiffin for influencing much of his defensive philosophy). Lane was introduced to the Carrolls at a young age – so young, in fact, that Carroll’s wife, Glena, once babysat him.
“They say that I bit Brennan, their son, when I was little,” Kiffin said with a laugh. “I don’t know if that’s the story they say, (but) I think Brennan’s up there (with the Seahawks) as well.”
Kiffin eventually followed his father’s footsteps and took over several coaching positions for prominent programs, including Tennessee, Alabama and USC. He told Danny, Dave and Moore that Carroll and Alabama coach Nick Saban couldn’t be more different, which proves to him that there’s more than one way to win.
“(Carroll) creates an atmosphere of ‘want to’ versus ‘have to’,” Kiffin said. “It does prove there’s more ways to win than one. Pete always talked about creating an atmosphere that people want to be at, and they’ll be more productive – coaches (and) players. And it was. We didn’t have hours, but I’d go into the office every day, even when we’re off or during summertime, because you wanted to be around. It’s interesting to be in different programs, or be in another program where coaches aren’t excited to go to work.
“We take that model here. I think our players are excited to come to practice, and I think our coaches are excited to come to work, because that’s the environment we create.”
Kiffin has most recently assumed the head coaching position with Florida Atlantic. Under Kiffin, the Owls finished 11-3, their first season over .500 in a decade. The turnaround included a nine-game winning streak to end the season and a dominant, 50-3 victory over the University of Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl.
“It’s been great, a very different feeling,” Kiffin said. “I’ve been fortunate to be at what you’d consider Top-20 programs, so this was a different feeling of, not every player here is going to go play in the NFL. So, what’s kind of unique to that is their enjoyment and excitement knowing this is it. Like that high school feeling. So it was really neat to be able to help them achieve something they hadn’t done before — to not just win a bunch of games, but win them in a dominating fashion. It was special.”