Smokey, in brighter, better days
Tennessee football will have it's third head coach in three years at some point within the next month or so. Knoxville has undergone entirely too much turnover at head coach in the past 14 months. A messy end to the Phil Fulmer Era at Tennessee was bad enough, but then the Volunteers went way outside their normal comfort zone to hire a brash, energetic Lane Kiffin. After one season, which it should be stated was a 7-6 season including a 4-4 SEC record and a thorough bowl thrashing at the hands of Virginia Tech, Kiffin is gone. I should state at this time that I thought Kiffin wouldn't last more than three seasons, but for entirely different reasons than what happened. Kiffin wasn't fired, his salary got doubled to coach the leading dynasty of the past decade in college football, Southern California. Tennessee, your hubby left for one of the other really hot women in town, even if it's the other side of town.
Any marriage counselor would have advised against the marriage. There were a number of reasons Tennessee shouldn't have hired Kiffin to begin with, and really the only good reason to hire Kiffin was the energy he brought and the resume his legendary father brought as defensive coordinator. The main problem is that Kiffin didn't really "love" Tennessee. That's not a problem for Arizona, Baylor, Kentucky, Maryland, Syracuse, or Washington State. It is a problem for Tennessee, a top ten program in college football. Tennessee shouldn't be hiring a coach who would leave for another college program so quickly. There will always be other interests for a coach from another region, but those interests shouldn't extend to a 14-month tenure and then furious exit. Tennessee simply has too much history, tradition, and facilities to be abandoned when most couples are still in the after-glow of the honeymoon.
While Kiffin never truly loved Tennessee it's the fans who got jilted. They tried much like a real relationship to see through the flaws and love him anyway, but instead he left them. Kiffin should have just said it in the press conference, "It's not you, it's me."
Tennessee's direction from here really is the biggest question mark in this entire situation.
- Reports circulated that Tennessee offered the job to Texas defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp, a man with deep SEC connections, but he turned Tennessee down. It apepars Muschamp, a Georgia alum, is content to wait to become the head coach at Texas unless an opening were to happen in Athens.
- Suddenly the search centered on Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, who was reportedly the second choice during the search the decided on Kiffin, but he also turned down the Tennessee brass.
- Right now there is no certainty involved. Reports are out that say Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is in negotiations. Those negotiations supposedly are hanging on Cutcliffe's insistence to have his entire Duke staff brought on to Knoxville. If the two sides cannot budge then names like Connecticut's Randy Edsall, Utah's Kyle Whittingham, Houston's Kevin Sumlin, or Louisiana Tech's Derek Dooley (yes, son of legendary Georgia head coach Vince Dooley).
Ok, but no promises about tomorrow, 14 months from here who knows?
Trojans Get Boner (Make That Bonehead)
Lane Kiffin was 5-15 as an NFL head coach and is currently 7-6 as a college head coach. That's 12-21 for those of you keeping score at home. So you'd think a guy with a .364 winning percentage would have a hard time keeping a job as a head coach, but you'd be wrong. In fact he went from a horrendous situation at the worst NFL franchise to a top ten college program coming from a period of decline to the dynasty of the past decade in college football. If I were him at this point I'd try going without pants and see if anything you can do would hurt you. He likely had more secondary violations than wins during his season in Knoxville, and certainly earned far more critics than allies. The only SEC school he didn't anger was Tennessee, but then he did that too when he darted across the country to take the Southern California job.
Kiffin will bring the beginnings of a good staff with him to Los Angeles. His father, the legend Monte Kiffin, will come with him. Former Ole Miss coach and former SoCal assistant Ed Orgeron will also come with Kiffin, he being a recruiter of the stuff legends are made of. It now appears the widely-circulated rumor of great offensive coordinator Norm Chow leaving UCLA to join Kiffin are false. In all reality that would have just been icing on the cake. I wonder why Southern Cal would have paid $4,000,000 just to listen to his dad call defense and Chow call the offense. I guess Lane would have been the water boy on that staff.
I doubt Kiffin will succeed at Southern California, but the looming investigation by the NCAA might give him the kind of pass he needs to last longer than he deserves. My personal prediction is eventually Kiffin will stick around somewhere long enough for someone to realize he's just not that good. If I am right we will all agree that no coach ever moved so quickly up the ladder with so little a resume of success.
Was Al Davis (right) actually correct? Suddenly he seems the smart one, the more stable one.
Skip for Joy in Tampa
Tomorrow at noon South Florida will introduce Skip Holtz as their second football coach in school history. It's been a long time coming for a coach who I think was actually hurt more by his time as his father's assistant at South Carolina than anything else. Lou Holtz threw his on under the proverbial bus during his tenure in Columbia. Skip Holtz did a wonderful job prior to that as head coach at Connecticut which was a D-IAA at the time, but success under his tenure included a first round play-off victory and the foundation of the later move to D-IA after Skip's departure. Most recently Skip Holtz guided the East Carolina Pirates of Conference USA for five seasons, including bowl appearances in each of the last four seasons. The records of his teams were 5-6, 7-6, 8-5, 9-5, and 9-5. Those last two years also included victories in the Conference USA Championship Game over Tulsa and 21st-ranked Houston respectively.
Skip will do good things at USF, and I for one will be cheering on his success. It is unlikely it seems that former USF coach Jim Leavitt could bring the Bulls to the level that they needed to be at given their natural advantages. South Florida is fertile recruiting ground, the fans in the community and alumni base are growing fast and passionately, and the summit of the Big East is not the impossible dream that other conferences would be. Look for success soon in Tampa.
"He's the best coach in the family" - Lou Holtz
I started out poorly with 0-2 on Saturday, but I rebounded nicely on Sunday for 2-2. Much like my Gamecocks, I struggle on Saturdays.
Cardinals (+7) looking very good, I like Warner to best Brees in the laser fight. 38-33
Ravens (+6.5) have the combo to beat the Colts, run ball and play D. 24-23
Vikings (-2.5) not getting much love, but not sure why Cowboys are as they had advantage over Eagles all year, beat struggling Saints (they also lost to Bucs!), and that's it. 31-17
Chargers (-8.5) aren't the Bengals, too much for offensively-challenged Jets. 27-14
and now your moment of zen