Cult of Lane Kiffin

FAU’s first year head coach is doing something that this school has never seen recently: win while having fun.

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Cult of Lane Kiffin

FAU football head coach Lane Kiffin said to the media Thursday that Francois won't transfer to FAU. Photo by Alexander Rodriguez

FAU football head coach Lane Kiffin said to the media Thursday that Francois won't transfer to FAU. Photo by Alexander Rodriguez

FAU football head coach Lane Kiffin said to the media Thursday that Francois won't transfer to FAU. Photo by Alexander Rodriguez

FAU football head coach Lane Kiffin said to the media Thursday that Francois won't transfer to FAU. Photo by Alexander Rodriguez

Ryan Lynch, Business Manager

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Editor’s Note: All stats current as of Friday, Nov. 17

From trains with his likeness rolling through the Breezeway to his tweets trying to recruit everyone from LeBron James to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson to come to “#thefaU” Lane Kiffin quickly became the university’s newfound hero.

The head football coach started out as a star-studded media circus hire for a team that was mired in three straight 3-9 win seasons. And after his first year at FAU, the hype has proven to be very real as the Owls continue to win, sitting at a 9-3 record overall.

Courtesy of FAU Athletics

But it’s not just the fact they are winning, it’s how. Name another team that has a coach whose 77-year-old father danced in the locker room after a win, gave his star running back a Madden rating, or said that his favorite fan base to troll is Tennessee?

FAU right now looks like one of the most fun teams to watch, and it’s not just because they’re bowling in the locker room. (Players pretended to bowl after their win clinched a spot in an NCAA bowl game this season.)

Kiffin has been instrumental in building a brand for the team, one that reaps more success than every team that has come before in the past eight years.

On offense, the Owls are averaging 39.4 points per game, the 10th best in the nation. That crooked statistic is bolstered in part by the emergence of two stars on offense.

Sophomore running back Devin Singletary has ripped apart the record book while becoming arguably the best running back in the nation. He already has the all-time program rushing touchdown record with 34 and has eight straight games with over 100 yards.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jason Driskel has only thrown for six touchdowns compared to his 11 last year, but has proven to be a much better leader than his previous play showed. Despite a close loss to Buffalo 34-31 earlier this season, Driskel’s decision making along with the work of offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has created one of the best offenses in the FBS.

Defensively, the secondary is the best in the nation with 18 interceptions. Seven separate players have an interception, including a team-leading five from junior safety Jalen Young.

All of this is done with players who have never experienced a season like this and it shows. During the Owls Nov. 3 game versus Marshall, Driskel was asked about senior wide receiver Kamrin Solomon’s 60-yard touchdown pass to Devin Singletary.

“I don’t know how to calculate passer rating, but I imagine his is pretty good now,” Driskel joked about Solomon.

Solomon’s rating sits at 934 for that lone pass attempt. That’s nearly eight times higher than Driskel’s rating of 129.4.

The quarterback did have a noticeable smile after the win against Marshall and so did many of his teammates who spoke after him. They joking about the game and how it felt to be going to a bowl game for the first time since 2008.

Much of that has to do with Kiffin.

FAU head coach Lane Kiffin during a timeout before halftime. Alexander Rodriguez | Photo Editor

You saw it before the season started, with scholarship offers to players who were still in middle school. He worked toward giving FAU the best signing class in Conference USA, according to 247Sports.

It continued with fan-made effigies of Kiffin at tailgates, to the school handing out visors at games. Later, a Kiffin cardboard cutout became one of the most sought after prizes on Twitter, so much so that the athletic department has repeatedly handed them out.

Program founder Howard Schnellenberger helped form what FAU football is during his time as head coach, guiding the team to some of its highest highs. But even then, Schnellenberger had his own way of doing business, different from the way Kiffin runs things now.

It will be tough to know what will happen following this first season. Kiffin has addressed rumors of leaving for another bigger program over Twitter, saying he’s “happy here,” but one can never truly know.

While waiting for the potential of a conference championship game spot, there is one thing FAU fans can be sure of. The fact is, while the team may keep winning in years to come, they won’t have another season that feels like this.

Kiffin has created a cult following with his actions both on and off the field. But now, the “Lane train” may bring FAU Football places it has never been in a long time.

Our favorite WEB Headlines During Lane Kiffin’s Tenure

Ryan Lynch is the business manager of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @RyanLynchwriter.