Alabama's Nick Saban: Argument with OC Lane Kiffin was a 'chewing'

ByAlex Scarborough ESPN logo
Sunday, September 11, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- There's nothing passive-aggressive about the relationship between Alabama coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

When Saban isn't happy, Kiffin knows it. And sometimes, such as during Bama's 38-10 win against Western Kentucky on Saturday, the whole world gets to see his displeasure.

Up 28 points with less than a minute left in the game, Saban snatched off his own headset and ripped into Kiffin, screaming while walking alongside him on the field. At one point it looked as if Saban might throw his headset toward Kiffin, who didn't raise his voice or respond in an inflammatory way. Kiffin simply put his hands on his hips and listened.

When Saban was asked after the game what the "argument" was about, he disputed the way the question was worded.

"There are no arguments," he said. "Those are called ass-chewings."

Saban did not specifically say what the "chewing" was about.

Although the Crimson Tide beat Western Kentucky handily, Saban wasn't pleased with his team's performance, calling it the most "disappointed" he's ever been after winning a game.

Alabama had an uncharacteristic 12 penalties, rushed for fewer than 3.3 yards per carry and had a late fumble that set up Western Kentucky's only touchdown of the game.

Saban could be seen getting on to Kiffin as early as the first quarter, when a drive stalled out and Alabama was forced to settle for a field goal inside the red zone.

"We have lots of work to do," Saban said. "We're going to play a lot better teams. I didn't think we practiced very well this week. I didn't think we prepared very well for this game. I don't think we respected the team we played. Like I said before, when you're arrogant, it makes you complacent. It creates a blatant disregard for doing things right. If we don't start doing things right, we're not going to have the kind of success that we're capable of."

Ever since Kiffin was hired as offensive coordinator in 2014, scenes like the one on Saturday have occurred at times. Saban and Kiffin will disagree, sometimes there's a brief back and forth, and then it's over.

Kiffin, who came to Alabama after being fired as coach at USC in 2013, doesn't speak to the media during the season, per the school's policy. He received a raise on Friday, seeing his salary improve from $714,000 last season to $1.4 million for this season.

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