A few years ago, when Wisconsin and Florida Atlantic agreed to meet in Madison on Sept. 9, 2017, former Badgers co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge was head coach in Boca Raton.
Now that the day has finally arrived, Partridge is long gone, fired from FAU and plying his trade at Pitt as defensive line coach. In his stead, Wisconsin hosts an Owls team led by perpetually derp-faced legacy child Lane Kiffin.
At risk of ending up at the wrong end of a Kiffin-fired Twitter emoji storm, I must admit that I would be more than happy if this particular circus passed Madison by.
For the most part, I don’t really care that he has packed his roster full of troubled talent that has failed elsewhere. America loves a good redemption tale, even if the back story involves lots of transfers and supposed gun possession.
(There are two notable exceptions to this: offensive coordinator and former Baylor assistant Kendal Briles should be nowhere near a college sideline [along with his appropriately black-balled-in-Canada dad, Art]. Nor should quarterback De’Andre Johnson after cold-cocking a woman at the bar.)
I don’t care too much about Lane’s habit of bizarre departures from past employers. Honestly, it’s kind of hilarious and if there is anything Americans love more than a good redemption story, it’s schadenfreude (Germans too, I suppose).
So why do I find myself caring so much that the patron saint of “I totally got a job with my dad’s golfing buddies on my own merits” rolls into town with a team that Navy just housed 42–19?
I think I am just kind of over the talented-coach-whose-ego-exceeds-his-talents-by-a-factor-of-40. His near pathological inability to maintain good relations with his employers aside, Kiffin is supremely talented. He is just a coach that can’t get out of his own way.
We had one of those, remember?
Look, I’m on record as liking my coaches smart and oozing unassuming excellence. But I do have a soft spot in my heart for the occasional egotistical, bloviating gas bag, particularly when said gas bag brings a modicum of entertainment to my life. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a scoundrel, particularly if the scoundrel is just playing the game.
But I loathe wasted talent.
I loathe watching smart and talented people do bizarre and self-sabotaging things that lead to career conflagration.
I am going to go out on the limb here: if Lane could stop being Lane for a bit, he might just actually be the coach that Oakland and Tennessee and USC all thought he was (Alabama knew who they were dancing with and acted accordingly when the time came).
But the circus continues.
So we get to enjoy a week of the Lane Kiffin show on his way to third place in Conference USA. Let’s just blow the doors off them and call it a day.
At least it’s good practice for when P.J. Fleck comes to town.