Wait, wha—- Yes, to recap: Lane Kiffin is no longer the head coach at Tennessee. He did not leave this position to walk the earth, attend law school, or pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a forest ranger. He’s leaving for another job.
And that job isn’t with the Forest Service? Unless the Forest Service just beat Boston College in the Emerald Bowl, no. He’s going to USC, the school whose head coaching job was recently vacated by Pete Carroll in favor of the Seattle Seahawks’ head job.
So, what does this mean for Tennessee? Rioting, or at least a mild variation of it outside the UT Athletic offices. Tennessee player Renaldo Woodridge documented some of the mayhem on his Twitter feed, including some light tear-gassing of a crowd alternating chants of “F—- You Kiffin” and the coach’s address.
This is not an exaggeration. Real live rioting, albeit pretty festive-looking rioting:
(HT: From The Rumble Seat)
So the news didn’t exactly go over well with the natives.
It also means wide receivers coach Kippy Brown is the interim head coach at Tennessee for the moment. He will have to hang on to not only his recruiting class waiting at high schools across the nation, but even those in early enrollment at UT, as Rocky Top Talk is reporting that Ed Orgeron was offering early enrollees USC scholarships despite them being on campus at Tennessee.
Sounds weird? Oh, in The Great Kiffin-ing, there is no bottom to the weirdness. Only more pit without end:
(HT: The Wiz.) That’s correct: Ed Orgeron offering recruits USC bids in the room while their coach is telling them he’s leaving. Many players might have missed the calls as they walked out of the meeting, which according to reports many players did before Kiffin finished.
Is Kiffin getting the band back together? The band, referring to the glory days team of USC that won titles in the early 2000s and made USC the lion of the PAC-10? It seems it, with some new wrinkles. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will follow his son. So will recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, a USC stalwart largely credited for building USC’s golden recruiting pipeline.
One missing link in this is former USC offensive coordinator and coaching demigod Norm Chow, the current play-caller at UCLA. Some say he’s staying, and some say he’s going, and we’re all just confused and waiting on the cash to stop flying around.
So…who’s coming to Tennessee? With the seat still warm, it’s really not couth to discuss this on a night of mourning. We kid! Decorum went out the window around 8:00 p.m., so let’s speculate away.
Tony Barnhart says it’s Will Muschamp, Duke coach and former Tennessee OC David Cutcliffe, and wait for it…Phil Fulmer. The hilarity of Tennessee groveling back to the man they fired for Kiffin aside, Muschamp would be a hot young hire, albeit one promised as head-coach-in-waiting at Texas.
Other possibilities we’re just firing straight from the hip: Gary Patterson of TCU, Mike Leach of Texas Tech, and Kevin Sumlin of Houston. Jon Gruden, a former Tennessee assistant, is also out there, but he’s paid a lot of money to talk about football once a week on ABC. You can also put any other coach not nailed down with unmovable money here, because Tennessee’s got the cash and the motivation to use it (because, due to unforeseeable circumstances, they have to use it fast.)
Toss in Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino because they are Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino.
Again: wait for the moneystorm to settle down before putting your head out the window, because a hundred dollar bill makes a helluva paper cut.
Is this all as insane as it seems? For once, yes. This may wax even stranger before the whole thing settles down. For someone with a 12-21 record as a head coach Kiffin possesses an incredible buoyancy, failing up with short but losing tenures at Oakland and Tennessee. I assume his buttocks are made of pure helium and his shoe soles of lead to keep him from floating to the ceiling of every room he enters.
A better question: why is USC choosing Kiffin? USC’s offenses declined in their effectiveness under his watch. The program is clouded over with the pall of possible NCAA sanctions, but has opted to hire a coach who committed a slew of secondary violations in only a year at Tennessee, and who helped preside over many of the alleged oversights in oversight at USC.
According to Bruce Feldman on ESPN News, Kiffin’s entry into picture was late and swift, indicating that the hiring itself was a pell-mell sprint from the start. USC had already been turned down by several major candidates. If Kiffin somehow succeeds at USC, this will look like an epic caper pulled off by Mike Garrett and a coach who smelled more opportunity on the Left Coast. However, failure or even mere “goodness” will make this look like the panic hire you might suspect if of being. And thus far, Lane Kiffin hasn’t even been good as a head coach at any level.
Who wins in all this? Jimmy Sexton, superagent to coaches in the SEC and beyond. Daddy's getting a new vacation home with the cut from all the raises he's getting coaches off this business. If you need him, he'll be out back on his cellphone staying warm next to a firepit burning on a fast-burning blend of Euros and greenbacks.