People hated Al Davis when his Raiders were winning. People hated Red Auerbach because his Celtics hoisted banners on an annual basis. People hated George Steinbrenner because he spent big and bought seven World Series rings for his money.
The common thread: People hate winners.
Which only goes to show how remarkable it is that Lane Kiffin, with a career record of 12-21 as a head coach, is the most despised man in American sports. A (partial) list of loathers:
• The aforementioned Davis, himself once the most hated man in sports.
• Raider Nation, a fan base that models itself after a biker gang.
• Urban Meyer, one of the two best coaches in college football.
• Recruiting analysts, who saw Kiffin’s ballyhooed Big Orange class of 2009 fall apart before it could get on the field.
• NCAA investigators, who are sick of hearing the words “secondary violation.”
• Mike Slive, the most powerful man in college football.
• Tennessee fans, who were left brokenhearted by this carpetbagger.
• Administrators at Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Washington and Fresno State — each school having received an apology from Kiffin’s latest employer over his unfounded charges that it had cheated.
• And now Jeff Fisher, who coaches the Tennessee Titans and who played collegiately at — wait for it — Southern Cal.
Fisher was peeved that Kiffin stole Kennedy Pola, who coached the Titans’ running back, a week before training camp commenced and did so without calling the NFL team to ask permission. (Of all the things Kiffin does badly, asking permission is among the worst.)
This guy, not to put too fine a point on it, is a raging brat. He calls to mind Jim Mora the Younger — the son of a famous coach, entitlement dripping from every pore, arrogance personified. But Mora actually won a little with the Falcons, at least at first, and he didn’t have to apologize one-tenth as often as Kiffin has.
Regarding Kiffin, there are two things that don’t compute: First, that big-name teams keep hiring him, and second, the incongruity of Monte Kiffin, a prince among football men, having sired this jerk. He we have living proof that sometimes the acorn does fall far from the ol’ tree.