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

Buckeye Fan

January 14th, 2010
2:05 pm

The opening of the job at USC caught everyone by surprise and that led to Kiffin’s having a decision to make. He is a California guy with ties to USC and so it really wasn’t a surprise to me. To me, the best hire for Tn is David Cutcliff. He has done a good job at Duke and can bring offensive improvement to any team he joins. He also is familiar with the SEC and should still be at Ole Miss, so recruiting won’t be as bad off as it could be. You would also have a long term commitment with him.

We can debate for ever the pluses and minuses of one conference versus another and never reach agreement so the best thing is to get a new coach and move on.

Mikey in SAV

January 14th, 2010
2:06 pm

Shoot, at the rate Lane Kiffin is going, he will be offered the Head Coaching job at Indy to coach number 18 for $500 million per year some time within the next year or 2.
The guy could fall out of an airplane and live to tell about it….


January 14th, 2010
2:16 pm

Willie M. is available.


January 14th, 2010
2:18 pm

The only people who are glad Lane Kiffin is gone from UT are the rest of the caoches and fans in the SEC. That’s why they are all so happy on this blog. Kiffin proved he knows offense, can handle a QB, recruit the athletes needed to win, and his father’s D was great. Whoppins were coming to the likes of fl and ala and they knew it.


January 14th, 2010
2:35 pm

ESPN reporting Muschamp has turned down the UT job to stay at Texas.

Ron Mexico

January 14th, 2010
2:49 pm

Skip Holtz just went to USF – Hearing that Calhoun from Air Force is getting the UT job.

Ron Mexico

January 14th, 2010
3:07 pm


January 14th, 2010
3:15 pm

How many National Championships has SC won? How many Heisman winners? How many NFL HOFers?

SC is a better job than Tennessee. It is as obvious as LA being a better city than Knoxville.

Ron Mexico

January 14th, 2010
3:28 pm

USC was down in the 80s and 90s, but as a destination coaching job – especially after the way Carroll built it up – it is one of the top 5-6 in the country (Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, recently Florida, and maybe Florida State). Schools with national fan-bases, tradition, recruiting, etc. Schools where once a coach is in the door, no one talks about them leaving (ie, Les Miles looked at to go to UM, but no talk of Mack Brown ever thinking about moving up). Tennessee is a great position, but it’s not in the elite group. USC is.


January 14th, 2010
4:02 pm

Given what has been going on at UT both basketball and football-UT should fire Hamilton and hire Fulmer as AD not coach


January 14th, 2010
4:06 pm

General Neyland, I think that 5:50 meeting for Calhoun and Air Force just means that it is a 10 minute walk to the Dairy Queen for ice cream and Brazier burgers.


January 14th, 2010
4:11 pm

Breaking news: Air Force Coach Calhoun is staying at Air Force


Troy Calhoun will remain as Air Force’s coach in 2010, according to a statement posted on the school’s web site.


“We are more than grateful and proud to be closely involved with the character building of our cadets and the mission of the United States Air Force Academy. We are diligently recruiting and working with our team to prepare for the upcoming season. We look forward to coaching and being a part of the Air Force Academy team both on and off the field in 2010.” – Troy Calhoun, Air Force head football coach

Next up: Derrick Dooley? How bout that Dawg fans?

Mr. Thomas Anthony Jones

January 14th, 2010
5:06 pm

The USC Trojans football team will be alright. The SEC has many violations. Wasn’t Alabama on probation for several years. And I’m sure we can find some dirt on Alabama again. Do not point fingers, sir! it is impolite. We love the Trojans!


January 14th, 2010
5:14 pm

Why is Chris Peterson from Boise not getting a bigger push? I could care less if he doesn’t have the suppossed southern ties. He’ll get them. And he can hire staff that has those ties.
The man can coach. Get him to Knoxville!!!


January 14th, 2010
5:18 pm

Cutcliffe is the guy. I have no love for the Vols but I am glad he is getting another chance to coach at UT and in the SEC. He got completely hosed by Ole Miss. Maybe he can whip the Rebs and get even. :)

Now Duke is in a pickle. They will have to go with an assistant.


January 14th, 2010
5:29 pm

David Cutcliffe is the one coach that i hoped Tennessee would not hire. He has absolutely torched our defense when he coordinated UT offense. I always thought he was a better coach than Fulmer.

Stat Man

January 14th, 2010
5:59 pm

All Vol fans have to be ESTATIC they could pry a coach away from that annual football powerhouse DUKE!!!!!!


January 14th, 2010
6:29 pm

The more I read about Kiffin and Orgeron, the happier I am they are both gone. Tennessee is a special place, too good for them. Anyone will be better. SoCal will be as bad as the part of town they are in and return to the role as the second best team in the city behind UCLA.

Buckhead Bulldog

January 14th, 2010
6:46 pm

I hope a player clocks him, and makes him cry like the baby he is…BAM!


January 14th, 2010
7:21 pm

Great piece here… couldn’t agree more. Kiffin’s style (poor man’s Steve Spurrier) and recruiting tactics were already making UT the laughing stock of the SEC (kudos to the high school recruits he was chasing in Georgia for having the maturity to see through that BS). Over time, Kiffin would have set that program back ten years or more. USC is too much, too soon for Kiffin… he is in way over his head and out of his league now… he will struggle, and Cutcliffe will shine at UT… Vols will have the last laugh…

Tide Rising

January 14th, 2010
7:53 pm

Cutcliffe would be the perfect choice for UT. First he is an excellent coach. He did well at Ole Miss and they canned him after one bad season which was a transition season after Eli and a great senior class left. And he has certainly done a great job at Duke. He’s exactly what they need at this point. A mature, steady guy who happens to also be a fine coach and even more important than that is that he WANTS to be there for the long haul.


January 14th, 2010
8:31 pm

You know you are in trouble, when Alabama and Georgia fans are praising your soon-to-be next head coach….I like Cut and we were better with him, but he’s not going to take us to championship levels…old and not a very good recruiter..

Honestly, would any of you take Cutcliffe over Meyer, Saban, Richt, or probably Miles or Spurrier…..crickets….I didn’t think so


January 14th, 2010
8:35 pm

Personally do not fault Kiffin, for departing Knoxville.

He is Southern California, person as is his wife. The move to Knoxville, had to be a culture shock.

He apparently is a great salesman. Betting Pete Carroll made the recommendation for the hire!!!


January 14th, 2010
9:14 pm

Bradley and Schlutz are hackers…Do not post on their sites …. want them GONE

cmon now

January 14th, 2010
9:14 pm

hey jesse,
would you be trumpeting cutciffe to take over the uga program???

Kook Kiffin

January 14th, 2010
9:39 pm

SC Rules!!!

January 14th, 2010
9:56 pm

hunker down;

the PAC 10 IS BETTER, USC is BETTER and L.A. is the BEST!!! What the h@ll don’t you get with this??? “Goin’ to Cali”!!! That is the tune on all the recruits I-Pods right now!!! They don’t sing songs about K-ville, well unlesss you count the ones like: “My wife is sleepin’ with my Daddy, my truck done broke down and my dog done run off with the poodle down the lane, what am I gonna do”?? “I LOVE L.A.”!!! I LOVE IT!!! USC Trojans football & the Song Girls; nothin’ could be finer!

Fight On!!! Win Forever!!! L.A. is BETTER!!!! SoCal rocks!!!!

hind tit

January 14th, 2010
10:01 pm

news flash.dna test prove without dought that lane kiffin is son of eddie haskell.
this just in, haskell jumps off golden gate bridge.


January 14th, 2010
11:12 pm

Not a long-term hire but a short-term “fix.” Scrambling at best; desperate at worst. UT scared to death they’re going down the drain in ‘10.
But, what do I know? I knew LK would be a disaster when UT hired the done-nothing spoiled brat. Brain surgery this ain’t.


January 14th, 2010
11:24 pm

Why isn’t Cutcliffe… (Posted on 1/14 at 10:26 p.m.)
being burned at the stake for walking out on his recruits and University just as school starts back. I am sure Cutcliffe promised these young men and his University that he would be there for them. I am sure they “bought in” and are our mad / sad.

Kiffin has caught 100x the hell that Kelly did and Kelly walked out on an undefeated team before there BCS game. What is so special about Kiffen that evokes such emotional reactions?

Grow up guys, it’s a business.


January 15th, 2010
12:01 am


January 15th, 2010
12:21 am

I sure hope they hire Paul Johnson and his lame a$$ high school offense in Knoxville so UGA can be guaranteed atleast one SEC East win every year. Hey Argo, the numbers read like this: (30-24) (339) (8 out of 9) (73-66). It must suck to be a bee in the winter, bwahahahahahahah.


January 15th, 2010
12:23 am

Hey Furman Bisher, that was Willie Martinez who OUTCOACHED the “great” Paul Johnson, wasn’t it?

Tron Carter

January 15th, 2010
12:54 am

Nukeeseville in shambles

Not even David Cutcliffe with all of Kiffin’s helicopters and girls for hire can save the damage

tick tock tick tock

Recruits bailing each second

No gas station is safe

Red Dog 77

January 15th, 2010
2:01 am

As a UGA grad that bleeds RED and BLACK…….I have all the respect in the world for the good people of Tnn. Your program just took a major hit, and there may be more to come when all of Kiffens shenanigans are uncovered…..But keep the faith !!! I keep telling my friends in BULLDOG nation that college football in general goes in cycles…. Our day will come and so will yours….. Enjoy the prospect of rebuilding….After all I believe that is what it is all about…. how we can get better…. and the cycle will turn and turn and turn …..Ever noticed how there seems to be some kind of major surprise every season ? Yes that could be anyone.

Kiffin Returning Too Soon?

January 15th, 2010
8:55 am

Is Kiffin returning too soon? Is there a statute of limitations on violations? Could he and some of his “crew” been part of the problems prior to him leaving for the Raiders?

Game Coach

January 15th, 2010
9:16 am

Let’s just say,,,that in 2009 Lane Kiffin and his staff OUT COACHED the great sun-tan Marc BEATING and UGA. Question his coaching ability if you want but always remember HE BEAT UGA and the great sun-tan Marc.


January 15th, 2010
10:06 am

With Cutcliffe removing himself from consideration at UT, attention turns to Derek Dooley.

Shelbyville (TN) Times-Gazette: Who is Derek Dooley?


Dooley is the son of Georgia legend Vince Dooley. So, if Mark Richt steps down or is removed from his position as head coach in Athens, would Dooley want to pull a Kiffin and jump ship to return home to his “dream job?” It’s worth worrying about.

That may be the reason why no deal was able to be struck with Muschamp. Some say he and UT reached an agreement in principle, only Muschamp wanted to be able to opt out of his contract to return to Texas, where he is the coach-in-waiting, or to Georgia, where he once played.

Tron Carter

January 15th, 2010
10:24 am

Why would Cutcliffe leave one stepping stone job for another?
Kiffin made UT a second rate “waiting for a real caoching job” position.

KNukeeseville in shambles
No gas station is safe
Recruits bailing each second
Your man Orgeron is ripping your program apart

Kiffin = This years' Obama

January 15th, 2010
10:41 am

Somebody mad the analogy on here and it was spot on. Kiffin getting the job at USC is like Obama getting elected President. It is all about style. As we have seen with Obama, style does not equal substance. Kiffin will probably go 7-6 at USC too.


January 15th, 2010
10:42 am

UT fans should be happy Kiffin is gone…bring in Edsall or Petersen and then the future will be bright…

Kiffin = This years' Obama

January 15th, 2010
10:45 am

Kiffin has done nothing to merit the job at USC just as Obama has no experience to be Commander-in-Chief. Maybe Commander-in-Thief. Just shows how gullable American society has become.


January 15th, 2010
11:07 am

Even Duke is a better job than UT. So much for the vaunted SEC. Barnhart you are such a homer!!!

UT should hire....

January 15th, 2010
11:17 am

Bobby Petrino!!!!

Petrino has the morals, integrity and class that it takes to fit in at the University of Tennesee, NONE at all!

Sun Devil Dave

January 15th, 2010
12:26 pm

USC is a hasbeen – Football in L.A. is like snow in Miami. What will be interesting is when Tennessee plays the Rose bowl while USC plays the Boise bowl. Now for TN – Sorry guys, that was a bad deal, but you do bring it on yourselves by hiring a hollywood showgirl ah guy. Nothing in California is real but the surgery. Go DEVILS!


January 15th, 2010
2:15 pm


UT being unable to hire a coach with deep ties to the Vols away from Duke certainly indicates Tennessee is not quite the gem of a job Tony thinks (thought? – maybe now he will reconsider) it is.


January 15th, 2010
2:17 pm

UT FIRED FULMER and all he did was what-win 85% of his games???? I can’t blame Kiffin for leaving, this is a business and these days there is no loyalty. That being said, Tennessee should have never hired the guy and while it sucks now it’s a pay now or later scenario. And I think the paying later would have been drawn out a longgggg time. UT is lucky to get rid of this guy and this will look like a freaking blessing in 9-12 months. What should happen is UT’s AD should get fired or put on the hotseat!!!!

Dawg Tired

January 15th, 2010
2:21 pm

Tony – “Tennessee will be better off without Kiffin.” You have a keen grasp of the obvious. I’m assuming his wife would be better off without the jerk.


January 15th, 2010
3:15 pm

Looks like Vince’s boy might be UT’s man

From Knoxville News-Sentinnel:

Dooley, who has been the coach at Tech for three seasons, canceled end-of-the-season meetings with his players on Wednesday and left Ruston to meet with UT officials on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Gannett News Service. Dooley was also the athletic director of Louisiana Tech since March 2008.

Dooley, 41, is 17-20 at Louisiana Tech with a 12-12 record in the Western Athletic Conference. Tech went 8-5 in 2008 and won the Independence Bowl. Dooley has a law degree from Georgia and a bachelor’s degree in government and foreign affairs from Virginia, where he played receiver.

Dooley is the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley. Derek Dooley coached under Nick Saban as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach from 2000 to February 2003, then was named special teams coach and running backs coach for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Dooley followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins where he was tight ends coach in 2005 before accepting the Louisiana Tech job in 2006.

Dooley came highly recommended by Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who was thought to be one of UT’s first targets. Muschamp, however, decided to stay at Texas.


January 15th, 2010
5:46 pm

Latest: Dooley to be introduced as new UT coach 9 PM (EST) press conference.

Thank you Dawg fans!