TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Lane Kiffin's job description these days is much more about the playbook than the podium.
The sometimes outspoken former Southern California head coach is working mostly behind the scenes as Nick Saban's offensive coordinator at Alabama, where there's zero question about who's in charge. It lets Kiffin focus on football and finding a starting quarterback, but he did get a little reminder from his new boss before speaking to Alabama reporters Sunday for the first time at the Crimson Tide's media day.
"To me, there would be no other option to come in and not try to learn everything that you can from Nick Saban," Kiffin said. "I'm sitting here every day learning stuff from him. We already met this morning so he made sure I didn't say anything to get on the (TV news) ticker."
He steered clear of any controversy, talking about studying "the process" from a coach who's won four national titles, the prospect of being a head coach again and returning to Tennessee for the Oct. 25 game.
Kiffin is only 39, after all. He's putting another entry on a resume that already includes being head coach at USC, the NFL's Oakland Raiders and Tide rival Tennessee for the 2009 season. The Tide visits the Volunteers on Oct. 25.
"Took a long time for the Knoxville question," Kiffin said, adding that his year there was great and "the people were phenomenal."
Kiffin was fired five games into last season at USC, where he was 28-15 in three-plus seasons. He said he'd talked to NFL teams about becoming an assistant but jumped at the chance to work under Saban in January, with a three-year, $2.074 million contract.
Kiffin spent eight days in Tuscaloosa during Sugar Bowl preparation visiting with the Alabama staff and observing the offense. The job opened up when Doug Nussmeier left for the same position at Michigan.
Kiffin said the decision was an easy one.
"I just wanted a job where I can be learning and growing and I can't imagine a better place in the NFL or college to go and learn from someone who has been so successful and someone that teaches his coaches," Kiffin said. "It's one thing to go to a successful head coach who doesn't have a lot of meetings and just kind of runs his own deal.
"Coach Saban teaches his coaches every single day about what he wants and the way he expects things to be done and how you can improve and helps his coaches grow, which is why he's had so many assistant coaches go on to be so successful."