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It was a nearly perfect Twitterbomb. Combine Alabama and Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin — Lane Kiffin! — and, well, it's roll snark, roll.

Here's one random example from shortly after the news broke that Kiffin was the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator:

"Lane Kiffin to Alabama. Well, he does have destroying Tennessee on his resume." — @MarshallRamsey

BACK IN SEC: Lane Kiffin joins Nick Saban's staff

There were many more, all having fun with the entire idea. And it's not likely to stop soon; the subject matter is just too rich. Beneath the humor, though, was this question, as texted by a friend: "How does Kiffin fail up?"

TIMELINE: Lane Kiffin's worst blunders

The onetime boy wonder — Kiffin went from co-offensive coordinator at USC to head coach at, in order, the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and then USC, without distinguishing himself at any stop — has once again landed on his feet, and in a better position than anyone might ever have expected.

RETURN: Louisville brings back Petrino

But let's stop there. The offensive coordinator's position at Alabama is a premier job, but it's not head coach. And that's important.

A bad head coach can be a good offensive coordinator. Kiffin wasn't the best offensive coordinator, but he was a good one. He also wasn't the worst head coach. His time at USC ended in a tailspin, but let's not forget he was dealing with severe scholarship limitations imposed by the NCAA just after his arrival — in his final game, USC dressed 56 scholarship players — or that the Trojans went 10-2 in 2011.

That season, which came at the end of a two-year bowl ban, seemed to signal the program was ready to thrive. But what followed was something else, and it was mostly self-inflicted. Ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls in 2012, USC went into precipitous decline. At the same time, Kiffin went back to being Kiffin. He had mostly suppressed the goofy, obnoxious actions that had earned scorn and ridicule earlier in his career, but suddenly, he was up to the same old antics.

It might not have mattered if the Trojans were winning — see Louisville's rehiring of Bobby Petrino for a clear example of what matters — but when things went bad, it was too much. USC cut him loose in late September. And when under interim coach Ed Orgeron, the Trojans played much, much better than they had in their final games under Kiffin, the narrative was set in stone:

Who in their right mind would hire that guy?

That's what made the entire idea so preposterous, at least on the surface. If Saban abhors clutter, Kiffin is clutter. But Saban isn't an easily snowed athletic director. He's nearly universally regarded as perhaps the finest coach in college football. He's not the kind of guy who hands over control of his offense on a whim, to some guy he sees as a risk. What does he see in Kiffin?

Not a head coach, but that's not the role. Kiffin has a reputation as a good recruiter. More important, he knows X's and O's and has a knack for calling plays — or at least, he seemed to back when he was working for Pete Carroll at USC, before he was burdened with all the duties that come with being a head coach.

He might never have that chance again, but he'll undoubtedly have the opportunity to learn from Saban, whose organizational skills, firm grasp of details and calculated message-making on every matter are unparalleled. Kiffin won't be expected to speak to the media — except for once or twice a year, he won't be allowed to — and so the opportunity for Kiffin to be Kiffin seems very slight. He can just coach.

Maybe it's a giant mistake, made by a guy who doesn't make many. But it's hard to figure Saban with a miscalculation that large. Regardless, Petrino's return to Louisville was suddenly only the second-most surprising development of the week on the coaching carousel. Or on Twitter.

Let the snark roll.

PROJECTED TOP 25 FOR 2014

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