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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Lane Kiffin can exit his office at Florida Atlantic University and take the second door on the left to see his brother, Chris, the Owls’ defensive coordinator, or continue to the end of the hallway to see his father, Monte, a defensive analyst and liaison within the school’s football program. Or, when sitting at his desk, he can turn his head to the right.
Two photos are scattered among the awards and knickknacks collected during his coaching career. The first shows Lane on Monte’s shoulders during the latter’s stint as the head coach at North Carolina State in the early 1980s. The other is of both Lane and Chris poolside in Hawaii for the 1988 Pro Bowl, where their father served as an assistant coach, standing and smiling beside two seated NFL stars: Chris Doleman and Herschel Walker.
“You don’t go to college to train to be a coach,” Lane said. “Your degrees are who you work for, who you’re around. So I feel like I’m Ivy League-educated, like a doctor, for football. Because of who I got to learn from.”
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Football and family have intersected at FAU, where two generations of the Kiffin clan have combined to lead the Owls through the most successful season in the program’s young history. A similar scene is taking place at more than 20 programs on college football’s highest level, although some arrangements have been under scrutiny as public universities and states seek to enforce nepotism laws and ensure fair hiring practices.
“Not many coaches get a chance to do this,” admitted Monte.
But it’s different at FAU. Here, at a program still celebrating its second Conference USA championship, the staff includes not just two brothers but the father. And that’s not all. For the third time in his distinguished career, Monte works under his son, making the arrangement of coaches at FAU unique across the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“Monte and Chris have an emotional and invested interest in Lane’s success,” said FAU athletics director Pat Chun. “To our benefit, it’s worked out extremely well.”