SEC Sunrise: Kiffin exits Bama, Bad night for SEC hoops and more

In SEC Football by Blake Lovell

SEC Sunrise is my new Monday-Friday article with random thoughts on news and notes around the conference.

This is the first installment. Enjoy.

Lane Kiffin to Florida Atlantic

Kiffin leaving Alabama was going to happen sooner or later. But Florida Atlantic? That’s wild, man.

Of course, as of this writing, Kiffin still has a few hours to renege on his deal with the Owls and become the new head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.

In all seriousness, Nick Saban has made it perfectly clear in recent interviews that Kiffin wanted to be a head coach. And Kiffin accepting the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic really made it clear that he wanted to be a head coach.

And let’s be honest about something: the Kiffin and Saban partnership went better than expected.

There were a lot of unknowns when Saban brought Kiffin to Tuscaloosa in 2014. You simply didn’t know what you were getting with Joey Freshwater. However, he’s helped the Crimson Tide pick up one national championship and might add another before officially leaving to coach the Owls. That’s a good return on investment.

How long will Kiffin stay at Florida Atlantic? Probably not long. But it’s a good spot for him to get back on track as a head coach.

And now for the inevitable follow-up…..

Alabama and LSU need offensive coordinators

With Kiffin off the market (at least, the coaching market), now Saban and LSU head coach Ed Orgeron are searching for new offensive coordinators.

According to Bruce Feldman, Saban’s options seem clear:

Now, the key word there is “consider.” That doesn’t mean Saban will hire one of those three. Steve Sarkisian would seem to be the front-runner of that group, but I’m not sure he’s the perfect fit in that role for Alabama.

On the LSU front, all signs point towards Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada being the leading candidate for that position.

Zach Cunningham makes history

Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham earned AP First Team All-American honors on Monday.

It was the first time that a non-position player for the Commodores had earned such an honor since George Diederich did in 1958. Yes, 1958.

It’s been a long wait for a Vandy position player to land on that team, but then again, there have been few players in the program’s history quite like Cunningham. He’s been one of the most underrated players in the country the past few seasons, and his numbers this season speak for themselves:

  • 119 total tackles
  • 68 solo tackles
  • 16.5 tackles for loss
  • 2 forced fumbles

Those aren’t too bad. And, of course, his blocked kick against Auburn was one of the best plays of the entire SEC season:

Florida losing its defensive coordinator

In some early morning breaking news, it appears that Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins will take over as head coach at Temple.

The Gators finished sixth in the country in total yards allowed (298.3 yards per game) this season.

SEC basketball struggles at Madison Square Garden

The SEC basketball fever jokes continue to make their rounds, and after last night’s games involving SEC teams at Madison Square Garden, those jokes will continue.

Auburn went into Monday night ranked No. 6 in my SEC hoops power rankings. So, naturally, the Tigers lost to to Boston College. Here’s everything you need to know about the Eagles:

As if that wasn’t enough, the second game of the MSG double-header saw undefeated South Carolina lose its first game of the season in falling 67-64 to Seton Hall. That loss was nowhere near as bad as the one Bruce Pearl’s team suffered earlier in the night, but it was yet another missed opportunity for an SEC team to get a solid RPI win.

On Sunday, the SEC went 0-4 in resume building opportunities: Ole Miss lost at Virginia Tech, Florida lost at Florida State, Tennessee lost at North Carolina, and Alabama lost at Oregon.

Yeah, it wasn’t a great 48 hours for a conference in desperate need of earning legitimacy in the eyes of those around the country.

 Weekly radio appearance on WHBQ in Memphis

I’ll be joining Memphis Grizzlies sideline reporter Rob Fischer (@thefishnation) and Ole Miss/IMG Football Network host Brett Norsworthy (@BrettNorsworthy) every Monday at 5 PM CT on WHBQ in Memphis to talk SEC basketball.

Here’s the link to yesterday’s discussion.

To listen, find the Fish N’ Stats December 12 – Hour 3 episode at the top of the page. Our conversation begins at the 24:50 mark.

 Video of the day

Because I already miss Verne.

Tonight’s SEC hoops schedule

Tennessee (4-4) hosts Tennessee Tech, and LSU (5-2) hosts North Carolina Central.

If the Vols and Tigers lose those games, the SEC basketball season should be canceled.

Blake Lovell has worked in sports media for over 10 years. His work has been featured on The New York Times, Rivals, Time Warner Cable,, FanRag Sports, FanSided and many more. He currently covers SEC football and basketball for various publications.