While that may very well be true, it does not matter. What does matter is that Kiffin refuses to move on.
In June, Kiffin talked with Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, who asked the first-year Florida Atlantic coach about his prior experiences at USC, where he went 18-7 in two seasons (2010-11) before a seven-win 2012 and 3-2 mark to start the following year led to his infamous tarmac firing in October 2013.
"Even though the USC thing will drive me nuts forever," he told Dodd.
"Because we did a really, really good job there. It really pisses me off that the assumption is we didn't," he added. "People look at that like we didn't win there."
Kiffin has a point. He inherited a program reeling from NCAA sanctions including a two-year bowl and 30-scholarship reduction on account of malfeasance under his predecessor, and former boss, Pete Carroll, and won a lot of games while recruiting like a champion. (He has since called Florida Atlantic a 'mini USC'.)
But it does not matter.
Kiffin's arrogance-laden one-year stint at Tennessee, constant jabs from former players and colleagues (including one saying he wanted to "physically beat his ass"), and routine refusal to admit wrongdoing are the damning evidence the court of public opinion needed to hand down a negative ruling years ago. A successful three-year run as Nick Saban's offensive coordinator helped rebuild some of that image — and his coaching stock — but he remains an easy target.
And yet he still can't let it go.
Kiffin's departure from Alabama was bizarre, and ended with him leaving the team days before their national championship matchup with Clemson. He watched the game alone in a Boca Raton hotel room, agonizing over every play.
"It was rough,” Kiffin told The Washington Post this week of watching the game. “It got really rough when you watched the game. At first, the idea of, ‘Okay, do your job. Focus on this one.’ But really when you watched it and because they lost and it was so close. If they lose by a lot, you don’t feel like, ‘Okay, would there have been a difference?’ You lose by one play, one second, it’s natural to think, ‘Okay, you could have made a difference.’ If they won, it wouldn’t have mattered. I would have just been happy for them. That was the hardest part, how it ended.”
Does he think Alabama would have won with him making the calls?
"I do. It's no disrespect to Steve," Kiffin said of then-offensive coordinator and play-caller Steve Sarkisian. "No matter who it was, you've been there all year long. You've been there for the quarterback. You're all he knew. You were undefeated together. We've won 26 straight games together. You feel like, OK, it's different. As great as Sark is, it's just different. Again, if it had been 14 points either way . . . when it's one play here or there, you think if those guys had the person they were used to, it would have made a difference."
Sure, there is some sympathy for him. He's clearly torn up about not being there for his guys. Who knows what actually transpired between him and Saban, or if he could've been the difference-maker against Clemson.
But, again, it does not matter. He has a new team and a new chance to prove critics wrong.
There's a difference between selfless regret and prideful bitterness. The 42-year-old revered offensive guru will never succeed at Florida Atlantic and get another Power Five shot until he moves on.