Watching Lane Kiffin’s wretched introduction at Southern Cal last night — delayed 45 minutes by traffic, it should have been canceled to spare everyone involved– the thought occurred: “This guy is the biggest rat I’ve ever seen.”
Then, a bit later, another thought: “Wait a minute, son. Didn’t we in Atlanta happen across a rodent of our own not long ago?”
Well, yeah. His name: Bobby Petrino. He fled the Falcons in same harum-scarum manner that Kiffin left K-Town. And that terrible memory got me to thinking: “Kiffin or Petrino — who’s the bigger rat?” Here’s where I attempt to answer myself.
Category: Truthfulness. Petrino reaffirmed to Arthur Blank the day before he headed over the Ozarks, “You’ve got yourself a coach.” According to Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton, Kiffin at least informed him last weekend that he’d be interested in the USC job. Bigger lying rat: Petrino.
Category: Manliness. Petrino left without facing his players. He had a type-written note left in their lockers instead. Kiffin at least addressed his players. Mayhem nearly ensued, but at least he showed his creepy face. Bigger cowardly rat: Petrino.
Category: Timeliness. Petrino was gone by sundown the day after his team lost to New Orleans on Monday night. Kiffin didn’t flee the Smokies until the next day. Bigger lamming rat: Petrino.
Category: Shamelessness. Not 24 hours after leaving the Georgia Dome as coach of the Falcons, Petrino was captured on live TV calling the Hogs alongside Razorback cheerleaders. Kiffin somehow resisted the urge to ride into his Southern Cal press briefing atop Traveler, the equine mascot of Troy. Bigger shameless rat: Petrino.
Category: Spousal involvement. Becky Petrino joined her husband to lead cheers. Layla Kiffin did not lead any cheers, at least not on-camera. Bigger familial rat: Petrino.
Category: Obliviousness. According to those Falcons folks who knew Petrino well (and there weren’t many), he was stunned his abrupt departure elicited such venom. Kiffin maintained Tennessee fans were upset he was leaving because he’d done such a great job. Bigger tin-eared rat: Kiffin.
Category: Staying power. Petrino coached the Falcons for 11 months. Kiffin coached the Volunteers for 14 months. Bigger fickle rat: Petrino.
Overall: You’ll note that Petrino is the winner, if that’s the proper word, in six of the seven categories. Which would seem to make him the landslide choice as the rat of all rats, would it not? Uh, no. Forget categories, I say. Look instead at the big picture. (At least Petrino can coach.) Alongside Kiffy, all other rodents must bow. King Rat: Kiffin.