Lane Kiffin has been a football coach at some impressive places: the Oakland Raiders, University of Tennessee, USC, and Alabama to name a few. Along the way, the colorful coach has made a lot of friends – and enemies. He has developed a reputation as the coach the other teams’ fans love to hate. But along the way, God never gave up on him. And now, the coach who has resurrected the anemic program at Florida Atlantic University, has found God. This is his story.
After his USC team lost a game to Arizona State, the coach was pulled off the team bus, where he was told he had been fired. He had to find another way home.
“I don’t wish that feeling upon anyone,” he says. “I wanted to die, because at the time, I was defined by my job.”
But God had other plans.
Kiffin says, “Just when I needed God most, he answered in a big way. I don’t know if God is a sports fan or not, but I do know this: he loves a good comeback.”
When he was at Tennessee, team chaplain Roger Woods gave the coach a copy of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Drive Life. Years later, that book would change his life.
“On the first page were four words that changed everything,” he says. “It’s not about you.”
Kiffin says that brought an old message a fresh meaning to his life. He believes he had “too much success, fame, and money in life too soon.” He was the youngest head coach in NFL history.
Looking back on his dismissal from USC, he says, “What it turned out to be was the beginning of God humbling me to become the man I am today. I was not using the platform he put me on for him. As my pastor once said, God wan’t punishing me; he was just giving me a wake-up call.”
Kiffin plans to use the rest of his career to point others to Christ. Already, he has made a difference in the life of the man he respects most, as his dad has come to Christ, as well.
The coach says, “I don’t like to focus too much on my past, because then it stops becoming your past and starts to become your present. However, my story is a special exception, because it shows people that it’s never too late to discover God, and we can overcome anything in our past. I like to tell people these days, if God can forgive me, he can forgive anyone.”