Monday, December 01, 2008

Well, Vols Fans: Lane Kiffin Is Your Future. Might As Well Pretend To Like It

...and there's really only one thing to do:

The SEC has established itself as the place where failed NFL head coaches go to resurrect their careers. It started with Rich Brooks at Kentucky and has continued with Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, Nick Saban at Alabama, and Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. (Rod Marinelli may want to look for real estate in Starkville.) Later today, that tradition will continue as the University of Tennessee is expected to formally announce that Lane Kiffin will be the new head coach of the Volunteers.

I know what Vols fans are thinking. "Really? That's the best we could do? I thought we were players in the world of college football. Couldn't we get a bigger name than this?" I'm familiar with this response because it's the same thing that UCLA fans went through when they learned that Rick Neuheisel would be their next head coach. (Coincidentally, they thought those concerns were assuaged when Neuheisel's Bruins beat Tennessee; but in hindsight, that victory was more about the deterioration of the Tennessee program rather than the elevation of UCLA's.) However once Kiffin is formally introduced in Knoxville, Tennessee fans can no longer express frustration over the absence of an elite candidate. Instead, they must follow in the footsteps of Bruins fans and convince themselves that this was the head coach their program needed all along. To help expedite this process, here are a few of the familiar talking points that Tennessee fans may wish to learn:

The program was headed in the wrong direction. We needed a coach with a completely different style.
For the Bruins, they needed to replace stoicism with enthusiasm. As for the Vols, they had gone 29-21 over their last four years- a far cry from the 45-5 record they amassed under Fulmer from 1995-98. Obviously, the team no longer responded to the elder statesman. He needed to be replaced with youth. At 33, Kiffin fits the bill. He'll be the youngest coach in the NCAA, and he'll get the Vols to play happy and play hard.

Sure their last job may have ended poorly, but looking beyond that, the new coach has enjoyed success in the past.
Neuheisel was fired for not getting along with the AD at Washington, but not before winning a Rose Bowl as their head coach (tho primarily with Jim Lambright's players). Kiffin was fired by Al Davis for insubordination. However prior to that, he had helped guide USC to a Rose Bowl victory (albeit with Pete Carroll's players).

We're not just getting a new head coach. We're getting some great assistant coaches too.
The Kiffin hiring is rumored to be a family deal, with papa Monte coming along to coach the defense at Tennessee. Ed Orgeron is also thought to be part of the new staff. At UCLA, Neuheisel was able to persuade DeWayne Walker to stay and convince QB guru Norm Chow to lead the offense. Of course, even legendary coaches have their limitations. With his NFL background, Monte Kiffin won't be as familiar coaching against the spread formations that are run at Florida; and Norm Chow has difficulties mentoring a quarterback who doesn't discriminate against jersey color when he's lobbing the ball downfield.

Ok, he may not have been the fan's first choice, but the AD seems to know what he's doing in other sports.
Bruce Pearl. Ben Howland. Both, excellent hires. Both great at helping fans keep their minds off of what's happened to their football program.

Even if things don't work out right away, we can still head to the stadium on gameday, throw back a few beers with friends and scream our lungs out for a few hours. It still beats spending the day at home.

This is the only cogent argument in the group.

Best of luck, Tennessee. And hey, if things don't work out with Kiffin, maybe you can hire Peyton Manning in a couple of years. I have a feeling he'll be ready for the coaching biz pretty soon.



At Mon Dec 01, 09:08:00 AM PST , Blogger goooooood girl said...

i like your blog......

At Wed Dec 03, 05:51:00 PM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

so you don't think kiffin is a good hire? who do think would be a better hire?

At Thu Dec 04, 02:51:00 AM PST , Blogger insomniac said...

I think they should have made a serious run at Chris Petersen. He says he's happy at Boise State, but it would be hard to turn down 2+ mil a year and coaching for the great fans in Knoxville.

Tim Brewster is on the path to becoming an elite coach. I don't know what his buyout from Minnesota would be however.

If Tenn was willing to go for a guy with no head coaching experience, then they should have sent word out to Will Muschamp's people a month ago that the job could be his for the taking. He played at Georgia and coached at LSU and Auburn. Being next in line at Texas is nice, but I'll bet he would have relished the opportunity to be a head coach in the SEC.

But who knows...maybe Kiffin will prove me wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.

At Thu Dec 04, 04:07:00 PM PST , Anonymous joe said...

you coming out to the game in knoxville?


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