The best moments from the first week of college football action, including Maryland's excitement in Texas and Ohios State without coach Urban Meyer.
Lane Kiffin also walks down the narrow hallway – but he pauses for a moment and asks a reporter:  "Do you have any ideas? "
The question is rhetorical. And yet, even with Oklahoma 42-0 ahead, it is accompanied by the slightest hint of a dry grin.
There are no winning ideas Saturday for FAU. The final result will be 63-14. But Kiffin remains Kiffin – perhaps more mature, in his second act as head coach, but slightly as intriguing as he has always been.
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USA TODAY Sport spent Friday and Saturday with Owls as they did made final preparations and then played Oklahoma and hoped to make a fuss. In the run-up to the game, Kiffin told several media outlets that the Sooners are outstanding, that despite Baker Mayfield's departure for the NFL, they were even better than last year and that FAU would not stand a chance. At the same time, he tried to convince his players that Oklahoma was overrated and ripe for excitement – and FAU was just the right force for it.
"When we finish it," he says at a team meeting on Friday night, "I do not even know if we have a flag, but hold the flag and plant it in midfield!"
Anyway, a good idea.
HOW MUCH HAS KIFFIN VIOLATED?
It's still a weird scene, Kiffin trains in a place where the outsider's approach is necessary at least occasionally. But he called last season, his first at FAU, the happiest of his career. After starting 1-3 in 2017, FAU celebrated 10 consecutive victories. It led to optimism about what's possible this season – but also inevitably to new questions about whether and when Kiffin could get another shot at a Power Five job. He has a 10 year contract at FAU and says the right things, including how his reverse career eliminates the incentive to hurry up the ladder in a hurry.
At 43, he is no longer the mischievous boy king, the head became coach of the Oakland Raiders at 32 who won, but controversies in both Tennessee and USC helped to resuscitate Alabama's offensive but left one game too soon. Has he matured?
"So, how is it that you are different as a parent when you have your first child, or now, four years later, with four (children)?" Says Kiffin. "And you also work for the best coach in America."
Kiffin says he has learned a lot from his tenure with Nick Saban. The boss of them, he says, is more focused on processes than results and how to run the program as CEO. But there is still a lot of influence left over from Pete Carroll and the USC Days with maximum fun. And of course, Kiffin brings its own unique taste.
He remains occasionally impulsive, and maintains a dry sense of humor; If you doubt it, check his Twitter feed. (For example, a few hours before the kickoff, Kiffin tweets a clip from the movie "Hoosiers" as one of the players tells his teammate, "Let's win this for all the little schools that never had a chance to come here." ) Or watch him treat a Saturday, when almost everything that can go wrong in the field does.
Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin faces the field before his game against Oklahoma at Gaylord Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Ralph Notaro,)
"WHAT I WILL ASK IS VERY EASY"
In the team meeting on Friday night, Kiffin explains to the owls why they are ready to beat Oklahoma and how they do it become.
"When you're in other places on the other side of these pairings, you see teams come in and feel like they're in awe of being there, like," We do not really belong here, in Order? That's too big for us, "he says. This is completely different than what will happen tomorrow. What I'm going to ask is very simple. Just listen. Listen and follow, alright, the next 20 or so many hours.
"What will happen is that you get nervous when you start playing well," he continues. "You're getting frustrated, it should not be near." We're Oklahoma. We all have these five stars. "Then the pressure is on her."
Kiffin trembles other notable disruptions from Oklahoma, including Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Houston two years ago and Iowa State last season in Norman. "They came here, basically the same dot underdog," he says. "They executed … The same will happen tomorrow."
But a few moments later, in a meeting with co-coaches, Kiffin speaks quietly, so quietly that it's hard to hear him when the air conditioning starts. He moves quickly through agenda items ranging from details of staff of different units to the fact that there was no beverage service on the team's chartered flight.
He reminds the assistants of their behavior Saturday: "Be quiet, no matter what we say you will be (excited)." He tells them not to scream but to "train with the answers". He tells them not to argue with the officials – leave that to him, he says. And he reminds them again:
"Stay calm with the boys, they have no idea how they can win in this environment."
THE ONSLAUGHT BEGINS EARLY
The sun rose little on Saturday morning when FAU power coach Wilson Love leads the owls on a walk around the hotel car park. It's a way to lighten it up, and that's something Love learned in Alabama, where he was a player and a strength-training assistant.
At breakfast, a little later, Kiffin holds a football under his arm and speaks briefly to the players.
"That's the fun part," he says. They'll work that's fun, they'll turn the tide, you'll see 90,000 people turn in the other direction, all the pressure will be on them. "
Then, players choose from a buffet – her choice of a variety of fruits, groats, eggs, potatoes, bacon, ham, green beans, macaroni, chicken, steak strips, ziti with meat sauce, toast, muffins and a baked potato bar – her trainer squeezes during a workout. Kiffin starts on an elliptical, but if the TV does not work, he goes out for a moment.
"It's not as hot as I thought," he says. "It felt like 70."
But as the kickoff approaches a few hours later, it approaches 90 degrees.
The FAU's first possession of the ball is promising, but punishes with punishment. And the onslaught begins. Oklahoma scored touchdowns on his first four possessions and another TD on a blocked punt. Seventeen minutes after the season, the FAU follows 35-0
Throughout, Kiff is stoic. He breaks character only once.
In the middle of the third quarter, as the crowd gasps at a big hit, Kiffin raises both arms in mock triumph. It is similar to those moments when he would see as a calling caller an open receiver and signal the touchdown while the passport was still in the air.
Oklahoma receiver AD Miller was dropped by referee Joseph Chisholm after a 12-yard win. Kiffin wanders to the back of the bench.
"This is our best device of the day," he says blankly to a reporter. "We have to see if he is eligible."
MESSAGE AFTER BLOWOUT LOSS
But when it's finally over, Kiffin's post-game message is measured against the owls.
"It was a good, old-fashioned butt kicking all the way around," he says, "but remember: you can only get to 0-1, whether you lose a game by one point or lose 50 points. They should feel (terrible), but it does not define a season.
"We will not make excuses to the media. We were tricked, we were drunk. We continue. We get back to work and prepare for the next game.
When Kiffin finishes, Agent Linde Azeez adds Al-Shaair's voice.
"Real talk! "He screams and then tells his teammate" We need to get together as a team, "as they did in 2017." Until we become a team, "Al-Shaair continues," we'll never end. We will never finish. "Moments later, Kiffin opens his post-game interview session with a joke," Did you enjoy this preseason game? Did not really count, did it? "And he says he's" shocked when Oklahoma has a better team in the country than we've seen today. Half an hour later he wore jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt shirt and a trucker hat, Kiffin is the last one out of the locker room, he just got good news back in California, his 9-year-old son Knox saw it first quarter on television, then he was not happy that he had to go to play his first tackle football game, but when Knox called to announce a 21-0 win he was happy – and dad was happy
On his way to the bus, Kiffin takes a break with an OU fan who tells him, "You're following one of my favorite Twitter! "And he recognizes the biggest difference in life at FAU from his former coaching stations in Tennessee and USC." Once, when the Vols were playing in Alabama in 2009, he felt compelled to try everything underdog Tennessee almost made a big surprise and Alabama blocked a field goal in the final seconds to escape.
"This speech worked a lot better," says Kiffin.
He grins for a moment and then get on the bus.
October 15, 2019
October 15, 2019