Several coaches have already announced that they’re interested in coaching next year’s U of M football team, as I’ve written about here. Now, however, a truly great candidate has stepped forward. His name is Lane Kiffin.

If that name sounds familiar to Vikings fans, that’s because his dad, Monte Kiffin, once was the Vikings defensive coordinator before following Tony Dungy to Tampa. Monte Kiffin was the architect of Tampa’s dominant defense that eventually helped them win a Super Bowl championship.

Here’s what Lane Kiffin brings to the table as the Gophers’ coach:

Kiffin, 31, just completed his sixth season at USC where he has both the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator titles. He has worked with some of the top offensive talent in college football in recent years, including Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.

He’s also known as a dogged recruiter, which he said he would make a priority if hired.

“Recruiting is all about hard work,” he said. “It’s about doing your own evaluation and studying film and maybe having to get on a bunch of planes to go see kids. There is no reason Minnesota can’t compete for kids.”

Call me crazy but he sounds like the ideal candidate to coach the Gophers. He’s got the pedigree of being a top recruiter. He’s been the offensive coordinator of the best offense in college football of the past 5 years. He’s worked with, and recruited, 2 of the last 3 Heisman trophy winners. You’d have to think that he’d elevate the Gophers into the top tier of the Big Ten.

After all, it’s not like the Gophers don’t have a solid nucleus of offensive players. It’s likely that Walker Lee Ashley, a former all-state defensive lineman from Minnesota, who was redshirted by USC this season, would follow Kiffin here, improving a Gopher defense that needs upgrading. I’d suspect that he’d be able to recruit all of the best players in Minnesota while still grabbing some top out-state talent, too.

Another bonus would be his putting the electricity back into Gopher football so that they’d actually fill up the new on-campus stadium when it opens. If there’s anything that’s clear, it’s that Minnesotans love football with a passion. There’s no reason to believe that Kiffin couldn’t tap into that passion while making the Gophers a very attractive product for fans & players.

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