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January 11, 2014
Crompton: You're going to love him
Jonathan Crompton has a message for Alabama football fans flummoxed by the hiring of Lane Kiffin as the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator: "You're going to love him."
More to the point, he said Alabama quarterbacks should be thrilled. "I promise you, they're going to love him," Crompton said.
Crompton spent just one season with Kiffin (2009), but the then-senior Tennessee quarterback enjoyed his best season with the Volunteers. He credits it all to Kiffin.
"He helped me in a tremendous way," Crompton said. "There were a lot of things that went on in Knoxville. Coach Kiffin came in and kind of said, 'You know what? None of this stuff matters. We're going to go out here and work our tails off. I've got your back, you've got my back and we'll work as one.'"
In their one season together, Crompton threw for 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns, upping his completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio from the season before.
At Alabama Kiffin has the opportunity to mold his offensive, especially at the quarterback position, which has a starting job up for grabs for the first time since 2010. Blake Sims has the most experience of any returning quarterback, but he's a different athlete than Kiffin's pro-style offense has featured. But the Crimson Tide has plenty of pro-style type quarterbacks, including Alec Morris, Luke Del Rio, Cooper Bateman and true freshman David Cornwell.
Kiffin is credited with helping develop Matt Leinart (Southern Cal) and Matt Barkley (Southern Cal), not to mention what he did with Crompton, who turned in a productive senior season after a mediocre career up until that point.
"I think he can do that with all of the quarterbacks that he's going to have there," Crompton said. "Look at his track record. Look at his track record of the QBs that he's coached. He's done a phenomenal job of getting guys ready to play at the next level. Obviously that's why you go to play in the SEC is you want to play at the next level. So why not play for one of the better coaches?"
Crompton said Kiffin's way of instruction is what he found most useful. Their interaction on the sidelines during games was helpful, too, Crompton said, although it's worth noting that no Alabama offensive coordinator under UA coach Nick Saban has coached from the sideline.
"He teaches you about the game of football and the big picture of when to get out of plays and why to get out of those plays," he said. "I think that helps, especially in a Nick Saban system.
"He works well with the quarterbacks. It's not his way or the highway type deal. You've got to put all the minds together and come up with the best possible thing. You've got to call plays for what your quarterback does best. I think that's what he does best. He really finds out what his quarterbacks do best and calls the game accordingly. Whether that's letting them check out of plays if it's a bad look or whatnot, that comes with time. He does a phenomenal job with that stuff."
The perception of Kiffin is that of a brash, arrogant coach. Crompton said that's by design to take the pressure off the players. Underneath, he says, Kiffin is a players coach.
"The media has the biggest say about what people think about you, so whatever the media says goes," Crompton said. "That's how people see things. People don't see that he is on the field things go wrong, but he's not going to let that player take the rap for it. That's where people think, 'Oh, he's a bad coach.' He's got the players' best interest at heart and the way to get your players to play is to make sure they have confidence. Now behind the scenes he's going to coach you and say, 'Yeah, you screwed up.' To the media it's not that way. That's all that people see is him taking the wrap, but that's why the players play hard for him because he's got their back."
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.