If this is the first act of Lane Kiffin in Florida Atlantic, how far will he let his mind wander into the sequel?
That's what we want to know after Florida Atlantic defeated 41-17 in North Texas in the USA Conference game championship on Saturday. That completed a 10-3 change in Kiffin's year, which is remarkable considering that the Owls won nine combined games in their previous three seasons.
Really. How far can the "Lane Train" get in 2018?
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Florida Atlantic won its last nine games, and Kiffin had fun doing it all year long. Big plays Trick plays. Scoring plays. FAU overtook opponents 518-315. The Owls averaged 39.8 points per game, one touch below that 40-point benchmark for which elite offensives trigger. Kiffin and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles launched an offense that simply did not stop making plays. As the coach carousel rotates, it is only fair to ask if there is a place for Kiffin at an FBS school, and there are enough chairs open at this time.
This is different from previous disasters in Tennessee and USC. At least, it feels different. How different? Kiffin is tweeting pictures of North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, and there's a lot of fanatics from the Volunteers who want him back despite all the trolling.
Strange days have tracked us down. Will Kiffin still play, or will he look for a new team? He is a hot commodity again, not to mention the most viral FBS trainer on social media. Regardless of your feelings toward Kiffin based on those attacks with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and USC, he has built his backup resume with a tremendous job in Alabama as an offensive coordinator.
This year, however, could be your best work. The only season of nine Owls wins in the FBS was in charge of Howard Schnellenberger in 2004. This is the fourth winning season of the program. That's what makes Kiffin a name worthy of mention for almost all FBS starts, especially if he can offer an offensive performance like he has this season.
We will listen to Kiffin if he goes elsewhere. But we will also find out if it stays.
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FAU would be in the driver's seat early to be next year's Buster Group 5, and will demand more attention if it becomes on that team. More attention than Marshall in 2014, Houston and Western Michigan in 2015 and UCF in 2016. Launch, more attention than all those schools combined. Do you remember supporting Tom Herman, P.J. Fleck and Scott Frost? Kiffin is that, multiplied by at least 1,000.
Assuming the Owls win their bowl game, they will come out of a season of 11 wins. Star runner Devin Singletary, who rushed for 1,794 yards and 29 touchdowns, returns. This is the calendar time of next year.
The FAU opens in Oklahoma on September 1, with Air Force, Bethune-Cookman and UCF on its off-conference schedule. That's enough to put the FAU in a much more interesting discussion. Oklahoma-FAU is as intriguing as any showdown in Week 1 to start the 2018 season.
That's something no one would have said before Kiffin's arrival. That is the impact it has.
The tweets will receive more retweets, and the momentum in Boca Raton will continue to grow. The Lane Train is still rolling, directly in 2018. If Kiffin finds another place, so be it.
But it will also be just as interesting in Boca Raton for another year.