Tennessee will be better off without Kiffin

I’m sorry I am going to be out of the country for the next few weeks because what eventually happens at Tennessee is going to be fascinating.

The next few weeks, even perhaps he next few months, are probably not going to be a lot of fun for Tennessee fans.

Unless athletic director Mike Hamilton can pull a rabbit out of his hat and hire somebody–like Will Muschamp of Texas–who will calm down the Tennessee fan base, the Volunteers are looking at bad stretch of road coming up with the sudden departure of Lane Kiffin to USC.

It’s clear by now that Hamilton has set his sights on Muschamp and will pay him handsomely to leave Austin, where he is the coach-in-waiting to Mack Brown, who just got a new deal at $5 million per year. Hamilton will tell Muschamp that Mack is not going to retire anytime soon. He is offering a bird in the hand at a premier spot in the SEC. Muschamp’s agent will have all of the leverage in those negotiations.

Texas will tell Muschamp that if he’ll just be patient–he’s only 39–he will inherit a powerhouse program that has averaged 10 wins a year since Brown got there in 1998. Why take over a program that is now faced with more questions than answers?

But what is plan B for Hamilton if Muschamp says no? I spoke to some people close to former coach Phillip Fulmer and there is no doubt that he would like to come back as the head coach. He can offer stability, which Tennessee desperately needs right now. And even the people who fired Fulmer never questioned his love for Tennessee. The next coach will have to show Volunteer fans that he really cares about being there and is not using Tennessee as a stepping stone. Of all the things that have infuriated Volunteer fans in the past 24 hours, it is the notion that ANY Pac-10 job would be considered better than theirs.

Hamilton said during a press conference on Wednesday that Fulmer will not be a candiate for the job of head coach. I’m suggesting that this process may be taken out of Hamilton’s hands. The next 48 hours are going to be very interesting as the levers of power start getting pulled. When the smoke clears, Fulmer coould be the head coach again. And if he’s not the head coach he could pull a Tom Osborne and become the athletic director.

But if you’re a Tennessee fan, trust me on this: Over the long haul, you are not really going to miss Lane Kiffin. The guy gave a great press conference. He knew how to get under Urban Meyer’s skin. He talked in a manner that made Tennessee fans smile because he wasn’t going to back down from anybody in this league. He had that California style and sold it to recruits.

But at the end of the day, Lane Kiffin’s rise to become the head coach of the Oakland Raiders and then of Tennessee was a triumph of style over substance. He TALKED a great game. It remains to be seen if he can coach one. Now he may go to USC and win a bunch of Pac-10 championships and take the Trojans to the Rose Bowl every season. But I have my doubts, especially if the NCAA drops the hammer on the program in the coming months.

Some people took me to task last night when I said that Tennessee is a better job than USC. They talked about California and Hollywood and what USC has done the last nine years.

But remember that USC was a struggling program before Pete Carroll got there nine years ago. Remember Paul Hackett? Remember Ted Tollner? USC was very mediocre before Carroll and could well be again, especially when the NCAA gets done with the Trojans. I don’t think Pete Carroll bolted for the Seattle Seahawks because he wanted to be closer to Starbucks.

I am going to miss you all but I’ll be watching from afar. Hope to see you in a few weeks.

209 comments Add your comment

yay

January 13th, 2010
3:50 pm

volsngoblue

January 13th, 2010
3:52 pm

My only question in this whole thing…. how did Monte Kiffin (who gave a great interview on the Sports Animal and is a CLASS ACT- regardless of what anyone thinks) have a son like Lane who is a brash, underachieving, smack talking, nut job who’s going to be completely exposed in a weaker-than-the-SEC Pac 10? How??

dougefresh705

January 13th, 2010
3:52 pm

There would be an outright revolt if Fulmer was brought back (and I’m sure it would be after Hamilton was fired). Some are suggesting him for AD but I think the modern day AD position has evolved far beyond former coaches. These are CEO of $50-80 million dollar companies who can’t just stand on thier balcony and watch practice.

I do not doubt coach Fulmer’s love for the program but he’s not the guy for either job.

BAMA STAN

January 13th, 2010
3:52 pm

yay

January 13th, 2010
3:53 pm

first first timer…feels good

UGA 2010

January 13th, 2010
3:53 pm

Thanks Tony, have fun…….

RAMBLE ON!!!

January 13th, 2010
3:56 pm

Chan Gailey is available.

Dawg Fud

January 13th, 2010
3:59 pm

Kiffin is a terd. Tuck in your shirt and stop crossing your arms.

ratherBgambling

January 13th, 2010
3:59 pm

LK might get 2 AD’s fired over this. This guy will be out of coaching before he’s 40.

Can’t wait till Harbaugh and Stanford whips their tail and gives him a taste of his own handshake medicine.

UA Alum92

January 13th, 2010
4:00 pm

Enjoy your holiday, Tony! I agree that UT will eventually be better off without Kiffin. He’s all hat and no cattle.

Socal Dawg

January 13th, 2010
4:01 pm

I lived in the LA area for the past 8 years and let me tell you college football is an after thought there. IF you want all that Hollywood has to offer it’s a great place but if you’re all about college football the place sucks.

UA Alum92

January 13th, 2010
4:01 pm

I also think USC is getting the coach they deserve.

Hal

January 13th, 2010
4:02 pm

I think Coach Fullmer left to early. He is a fine coach and his blood runs orange. He got causght up in the numbers game with recruits swarming to Alabama. Randy Edsall is good choice as would Bob Davie the former ND coach who through his exposeure on ESPN has proven he loves southern football. He would be a fine selection if they could get him. He might be too straight for Tennessee. He’s seems too honest to be associated with the SEC.

Socal Dawg

January 13th, 2010
4:02 pm

I lived in the LA area for the past 8 years and let me tell you college football is an after thought there. IF you want all that Hollywood has to offer it’s a great place but if you’re all about college football the place sucks. Vol is a much better football job.

Trojan Fan

January 13th, 2010
4:03 pm

As a USC Trojan fan and supporter from SoCal – let me tell you that our feelings are very mixed about this situation.

Tennessee – along with about 5 other SEC schools – represent destination type jobs – not stepping stones …. and I feel bad for the Tennessee fans. players and most of all – recruits.

With that said – everyone has a right to pick their employer if offered the opportunity. USC offered – Kiffin accepted – Tennessee will find a fantastic coach to replace Kiffin – and be Tennessee.

Yes, I would have hated this if the shoe was on the other foot – but there are no guarantees in life. Tennessee needs to move on.

My big issue? Lane Kiffin.
We used to think highly of him – but it appears he and his staff have taken to being the Oakland Raiders of college football. I hope he somehow learns some class, dignity, respect and is successful at USC. Currently – he comes across as an arrogant jerk.

Life is too short – let’s move on!

Best of Luck to Tennessee – and apparently to USC as well!

Tee

January 13th, 2010
4:03 pm

Lane Kiffin should be cast in the remake of “The Shawshank Redemption – Part 2, the Reeming of the VOLS!!!!” HA HA

uga_b

January 13th, 2010
4:05 pm

USC is a better job due to the built in recruiting advantages and weaker conference. UT is a great program recently and a good job for those who want the challenge. Where has Lane shown he is up to a challenge? He leaves first.

Bear

January 13th, 2010
4:06 pm

Enter your comments here

Reality

January 13th, 2010
4:06 pm

Tennessee is a good job, but it is nowhere close to USC. USC is the best job in college football. It is home to one of the three most talent rich states in the country. There is no pro football team in LA, which means USC is top dog. There is plenty of money. And, they get to play in the Pac-10, which makes it a better job than the Big 12 and SEC. There is a much easier road to the BCS championship game through the PAC-10 than there is in the Big 12 and the SEC.

FWIW, Texas would be my second best because of the same reasons. Except, that they have to play in the Big 12, which is harder than the Pac-10 and easier than the SEC. Plus, they have multiple pro football teams in their state.

Then Florida. For all of the reasons above. Except, they have to play in the SEC.

Mark "Crimson Crier" Ingram

January 13th, 2010
4:08 pm

Lane Kiffin is the Paris Hilton of college football!

Socal Dawg

January 13th, 2010
4:09 pm

The Reality is there are more Rams and Raider fans in LA than USC fans.

Tee

January 13th, 2010
4:11 pm

Lane Kiffin is a tool and now he has the Trojans to cover himself. Tennessee should never have hired this idiot to start with.

If Larry Munson were to say something on this subject, could it possibly come out like this:

“Oh, Look at the Billboards falling out of the sky!! Look at the Billboards over Atlanta falling out of the sky!!!
Kiffin just took a hob-nailed boot and smashed the Vols nose!!!”

Sorry, Rocky Top Fans you got what you deserved when you fired Fulmer and hired this trio of carpetbaggers.

collegeballfan

January 13th, 2010
4:11 pm

Does Muschamp want to be a head coach now or in five years? That is the question. Kirby Smart? Is he a year or two away? What is a year or two away? Butch Davis? Will he leave NC? Why not, what are his ties there?

I would make the guy at UCONN, Randy Edsall, say no before hiring anyone.

Ed

January 13th, 2010
4:11 pm

I think rehiring Fulmer would be a good move. The guy’s a proven commodity as a coach, things just got stale with the old job. Now, with a year off and a chance to start over with a new staff, I think he would be rejuvenated. And the guy is Tennessee through-and-through.

I don’t get how Kiffin gets these plum jobs. What exactly wowed USC – the 7-6 record? The blowout loss to Va. Tech in the bowl game? Surely they are not hiring him based on a blowout win over a down Georgia team and competitive losses to Alabama and Florida. 7-6 is 7-6, anyway you slice it. Kiffin must have some of that Obama mojo, because the guy apparently can’t be too mediocre to get a better job (no offense UT fans, that’s how he sees it).

The Vols are better off without this nutjob anyway.

Michael Scharff

January 13th, 2010
4:13 pm

Tony, I hope you have a safe trip.

UA Alum92

January 13th, 2010
4:22 pm

UT AD Mike Hamilton’s description of Kiffin’s tenure, “Brief.” But I still think Hamilton should take the high road and not ask if he can borrow Al Davis’s overhead projector.

Voice of Reason

January 13th, 2010
4:24 pm

And college football would be better off withot the BCS, and their paid minyans/hacks like Barnhart.

Jim Brown

January 13th, 2010
4:25 pm

I think at this point in time, bringing Mr. Fulmer back to salvage of what recruiting is left is a good idea. He knows the SEC inside and out. The question is why would he want to. He has nothing to prove but his love for Tennessee is second to none. I think he will help out the program in any way he can. He also has an unprecidented love for the fans, and yes even the ones who booed him and called him “johnny”. I think this late in the game he has the experience to save this “out-of-control” program from crash and burn. I’m all for it. It’s a little late to try and bring in someone new and get a staff together on such a short notice. The two things we all learned from this is that the boy Lane Kiffen can’t handle the competition in the SEC. The challenge for him was to great and the boy fled to a pansie conference. The other thing we all learned from this is that Mr. Al Davis isn’t a crackpot after all.

Atlanta Jacket

January 13th, 2010
4:28 pm

UT could always hire one of the Bowden boys.

Beach Dawg

January 13th, 2010
4:30 pm

Style over Substance!!!! Why does that remind me of someone else??? The White House maybe???

ReptilesRule

January 13th, 2010
4:35 pm

From some of the things I’m reading now from L.A. they ain’t too happy either. USC is gonna end up getting the short end on this one. Makes me think they are heading for some tough times with the NCAA. Why else would they hire a 12-21 head coach. Funny in Knoxville how it’s gone from “fear the Kiffin” to “smear the Kiffin”.

Mutt Nonsense

January 13th, 2010
4:38 pm

Beach Dawg,

You’re so right. I am totally reminded of the White House.

- Someone riding the coat tails of Daddy’s last name
- Someone waking up on the 3rd base and acting like they hit the triple
- Starting unnecessary fights and conflicts for their own benefit
- Blatant disregard for existing laws/rules and no ethics
- Someone that sounds like a complete buffoon when speaking in public

See how easy that is. Keep the politics on the other flame war blogs and leave this one for football.

stebla

January 13th, 2010
4:38 pm

They will never be able to recruit that well again.

pat

January 13th, 2010
4:39 pm

The best man for the job was thrown out last year. UT, you get what you deserve. Fulmer was not treated well and now UT gets the same from the “better” coach they replaced him with. Yeah! Sure. Stick with what works.

knoxdawg

January 13th, 2010
4:41 pm

Not a UT fan but they are better off w/o Kiffin. He is just like Al Davis said he was, a liar. USC job is not better than UT job. Easier maybe because recruiting is easier and PAC – 10 easier to win in. However, winning the SEC and then the NC makes ones resume look awfully good. Just ask Nick Saban.

Jon

January 13th, 2010
4:47 pm

I feel as bad for the Tennessee fans as much as anyone, but lets be honest. Besides, maybe Florida, the USC head coaching position is far, far superior to ANY SEC job. Just look at the combination of Academic Rankings, Prestige, History, National Championships, Rose Bowl victories and Heisman trophy winners. You are in the second largest city in the United States, with fantastic recruiting and weather with multiple business and entertainment options.

Otto

January 13th, 2010
4:50 pm

Fulmer back at UT. He has proven that he can coach the team to stable mediocrity.

If you want a hire that can work with the UT fan base go after Cutcliffe if he’ll come.

Muschamp maybe an option but UT has to play Bama and UF EVERY Year and they have to recruit out of state talent to do it. In short it is not an easy job and who knows what the NCAA is going to do to UT. The next coach better have a good out clause if NCAA comes down on UT for what Lame and Coach O did.

JumpingBadger

January 13th, 2010
4:53 pm

With Kiffin leaving, the dogs have at least a shot beating the Vols this year.

TonyBFan

January 13th, 2010
4:53 pm

It’s about time for Saban to move again, right?

ChicagoOtto

January 13th, 2010
4:53 pm

nice article Tony. but lets be real for a second…USC has a very rich tradition in this game, including more National Championships, conference titles, overall winning percentage, and Heisman Trophy Winners. Now I’ll give you back the conference titles (because like I said were being real and the SEC is that every year) but other than that, you gotta admit that playing at USC is a much better opportunity than UT.

Either way, Kiffin is a classless d-bag that had no business being at a SEC school. If i was UT I’d do the right thing and keep it in the family. Not necessarily Fulmer as HC, but as AD at least. Then go from there.

TonyBFan

January 13th, 2010
4:57 pm

As for Muschamp it’s the same thing as Kirby Smart. They’re UGA guys. They’ll wait and see if Richt falls this year and they get to come home.

robodawg

January 13th, 2010
5:01 pm

Respect you as I do, I have to disagree with your reading of USC history. Rather than an historically average program grown large by Pete Carroll, I think USC was a sleeping giant waiting to rise to its potential — much like Florida before and after Spurrier. All USC needed was someone who could make USC the magnet for West Coast recruits that it should be, then turn those 5 star high schoolers into college stars and outscheme those West Coast offenses with a great defense. Kiffin looks to me like he’ll continue to do those things, especially with his dad Monte in charge of the D. Maybe the rise of some other PAC-10 teams can mitigate against these forces. And maybe, somehow, Lane Kiffin’s lack of character will come back to bite him.

AltamahaDawg

January 13th, 2010
5:01 pm

Beach Dawg, I think you stepped on a somebodies ballet slipper.

Gen Neyland

January 13th, 2010
5:02 pm

Yeah, we generally feel better about coaches leaving when we, the fanbase, call the parting shot. What say you, CPF and CWM..? Who will Tennessee get..? I don’t know but I hope they include assts Coach Stabilty and Coach Continuity. Some will add with Coach Respectability…Alas, Pat Summitt is not available…

Paddy

January 13th, 2010
5:03 pm

Trojan Fan….great comments.
Reality….USC is not the most coveted program in America. You have a short memory. It is a top 10 program to be sure, but not near the top. Ugly campus in a terrible location.

Gen Neyland

January 13th, 2010
5:04 pm

Mutt Nonsense : Why didn’t you heed your own instruction..?

braves70

January 13th, 2010
5:05 pm

From Sports-Talk radio here in Nashville:

Former UT assistant coach Doug Matthews says he thinks it will be Muschamp or the Air Force coach, Troy Calhoun. Muschamp’s agent however says that he has yet to be contacted by UT.

AltamahaDawg

January 13th, 2010
5:07 pm

Exactly Gen.
Beach was making a joke, then somebody went all nucular on us..

I'd hire..

January 13th, 2010
5:08 pm

I’m a lifelong Dog, so I’d love to see them hire Bill Lewis, or Chan Gailey, maybe even Paul Johnson, but if I were a V..V..Vol (sorry, I couldn’t hardly make myself type that) I’d be wanting my idiot AD to make sure Tuberville had signed his contract at TT, and hiring him if not. If that didn’t work, I’d be going after Cutcliffe. Bobby Johnson at Vandy, the guy at Boise State and Muschamp would round out my list. But I’d prefer they stick with Lewis, or Gailey…maybe even get Corso to come to Knoxville, now that would cause celebration in Athens, indeed.

AltamahaDawg

January 13th, 2010
5:11 pm

And actually call him “the guy at Boise State” at the press conference.