Joe Medley commentary: Lane Kiffin most intriguing story of Tide spring practice

March 16, 2014 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's football practices aren't arranged with media in mind. Skill players normally do their thing distant from the viewing area, but it was hard not to notice how far Lane Kiffin was from media in Saturday's spring opener.

The media viewing area was on the sidewalk adjoining the weight room. There was no venturing out between playing fields, so there was no getting close to that distant assistant in the gray shorts, white long-sleeve T-shirt and white visor.

Those lacking a good zoom lens were out of luck.

It's been said that lack of media access to assistants is what makes Alabama a perfect career-rehab spot for Kiffin. His skill at coordinating an offense will matter far more there than his skill at uncoordinating his mouth and ego.

The bet here is that Kiffin is a more-than-willing distant assistant.

How sad, though, that the most intriguing element of spring practice is but a blur in the old smart-phone camera.

Kiffin's presence and work toward whatever changes are to come in Alabama's offense lead the spring in intrigue, and it's not even close.

Quarterback battle? Schmarterback battle.

Yes, it's interesting to watch the guys in the black, non-contact jerseys, but Jacob Coker, the Florida State transfer many consider the favorite to win the job, isn't in camp yet and won't be during spring. Saban reiterated Saturday that the quarterback race will be a slow process, so not much to see there.

There's the usual load of position battles, but c'mon. Most of the curiosity surrounds the celebrity offensive coordinator whose hiring by controlling Alabama coach Nick Saban was panned nationally.

Even Kiffin's presence as a consultant during bowl practice made gasp-worthy headlines, and, turns out, he's the guy who will have the most direct hand in choosing Alabama's next quarterback and offensive look.

Whatever that's going to be, and day one of spring practice is too soon to tell.

It's all about quarterbacks pointing their feet the right way at this point, so every drip and drab that comes out whets the curiosity. Since Kiffin won't have his once-annual meeting with state media until August, those drips and drabs come from players.

Alabama's offense is more "simple and player-friendly" under Kiffin. That's according to wide receiver Amari Cooper, one of two players available to media after Saturday's practice and the only player on offense to speak to reporters.

OK, let's fit that into what we think we know.

The saying goes, "keep it simple, stupid," so "simple and player-friendly" could mean just get playmakers the ball, stupid.

It's something for which Kiffin is known and, it's believed, something his new boss wants to see.

It's something Cooper no doubt likes, and "simple" would make sense for a new starting quarterback.

It's also believed that Saban wants Alabama's offense to have up-tempo flexibility, but who knows at this point? The Tide doesn't work that stuff during the media-viewing period and wouldn't be installing much at this phase.

As for Kiffin?

It's all point, zoom and click for the former Southern Cal, Tennessee and Oakland Raiders head coach. Until Fan Day/Media Day in August, he's just the distant assistant in the white visor.

-- Joe Medley is a sports columnist for the Anniston Star.

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service