Lane Kiffin t-shirts sold for a good cause

Three Alabama students founded Head Coach Tees, which sells t-shirts with Lane Kiffin’s face on them. Ten percent of the proceeds go to charity.

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Lane Kiffin t-shirts sold for a good cause

Kiffin (center right) poses with fans. Photo courtesy of Head Coach Tees on Instagram

Kiffin (center right) poses with fans. Photo courtesy of Head Coach Tees on Instagram

Kiffin (center right) poses with fans. Photo courtesy of Head Coach Tees on Instagram

Kiffin (center right) poses with fans. Photo courtesy of Head Coach Tees on Instagram

James Madera, Contributing Writer

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It was a bittersweet moment for University of Alabama football fan Ian Stone when Lane Kiffin, then the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator, left to take the head coaching job at FAU two years ago.  

“He was the youngest NFL coach of all time, and was extremely respected in the football world,” Stone said. “We wanted him to stay with us, but we knew he wanted to move on and try new things. We knew Boca would be a perfect fit.”

Looking for a way to honor his favorite team’s revered leader, Stone, a student at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB), decided to start selling shirts with Kiffin’s face printed on them. He partnered with two other UAB students, Drake Grisham, and Matt Lewis, to create Head Coach Tees.

Little did Stone know that what started as an ode to Alabama’s Kiffin era would turn into a legitimate business and a charitable cause.

Kiffin discovered the buzz around Head Coach Tees and got them in contact with It’s Owl Time, an off-campus apparel store, to discuss a potential partnership. It worked out, and they added a charity into the equation — 10 percent of the profits are donated to the Inky and Allison Johnson Foundation, which awards scholarships to high school seniors for “overcoming adversity.”

The shirts began selling fast among the FAU community, becoming a common fixture at football tailgates and around campus. Stone said over 300 have been sold since the start of the 2018 football season.

Last year, Kiffin invited the UAB trio to visit him in Boca Raton. The three UAB students ate dinner with the Owls team, attended a scrimmage and landed a business deal all in the same week.

Stone said Kiffin is aware of the attention he attracts and knows how beneficial it can be if directed toward charitable causes.  

“This is also branding for the coach as well,” Stone said. “He is given a different platform for on and off the field — it helps in raising awareness.”

Head Coach Tees has since branched out from only selling Kiffin shirts. It now offers merchandise featuring the faces of UAB football coach Bill Clark, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens. Each coach also chooses a charity to donate 10 percent of sales to.

Mark Noll, the owner of It’s Owl Time, is satisfied with all the benefits of acquiring and selling Head Coach Tees.

“We have a great business relationship with Head Coach Tees. They are a pleasure to work with. When they met with Lane Kiffin to get his approval, it was Lane who mentioned our store would be a good partnership for them. The Kiffin Shirt was our #3 selling item in our store for 2018,” said Noll.

Even as they expand, the UAB students plan on creating more apparel supporting FAU football and Kiffin. Stone said him, Grisham and Lewis are now “lifetime Owls fans” thanks to Kiffin’s cooperation.

James Madera is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]