Shanoff's WUC: With Kiffin, Buyer Beware

Today's Calls: Lane Kiffin vs. Tennessee, Evan Turner vs. Wall and Bledsoe, Pete Carroll vs. Pessimism, Mark McGwire vs. Jose Canseco, Drew Brees vs. Expectation, Colt McCoy vs. Derek Jeter and More.

Lane KiffinThe Opening Pitch: For Troy, a little Latin:

Caveat emptor. "Buyer beware."

Lane Kiffin left USC for the NFL, and a few years later, his time there is under NCAA investigation.

Then Kiffin was run out of the NFL, and two years later, the Raiders are (still) a mess.

Then Kiffin was brought to Tennessee, and a half-dozen NCAA violations quickly followed.

Now, in a logical career progression, Kiffin is bailing on Tennessee after just a year, to return to USC.

There's no question: Kiffin will win at USC. He is one of the top recruiters in the nation (just ask the kids he hustled to go to Knoxville). Strong-arm Ed Orgeron has reportedly thrown instant USC scholarships to every Vols commit. In dad Monte and, reportedly, Norm Chow, Kiffin will have the best DC/OC combo in college football. Boosters are lavishing cash for buy-outs and big assistants' salaries.

But it begs the question of whether it will matter, of whether we will look back at future wins or titles — presumably vacated — and shake our heads over the fall of the Trojan Empire under King Kiffin.

Because "buyer beware" is for the rest of us to mutter. USC knows exactly who it is hiring.

At the very least, it's a new spin on lack of institutional control.

What next for Tennessee? Recruits are bolting (and the ones from last year must be wondering what kind of bill of goods they were sold), and the timing of this threatens to disembowel the program. The Vols need a new coach today, but no names come to mind that will be satisfying: Mike Leach? Phil Fulmer?

I will say this: Vols fans should have seen this coming, and Tennessee should have known the second Pete Carroll left USC — unless Kiffin explicitly told them otherwise — that this was a strong possibility and been preparing for it.

CBB Mania: Evan Turner is back in form: 32 points and 9 rebounds, leading Ohio State to a seemingly improbable win at Purdue. (What back fracture?)

Kentucky runs past Florida: Not surprising, but everything the Wildcats do well was on display — the speed, the inside power, the exceptional freshman backcourt combo of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe (44 pts combined). Kentucky was down 1 with 5 minutes to play, then shut the door to end up winning by 12.

NFL Divisional Lead-Up: "I know what we're capable of." That's Drew Brees about the expectations for the Saints, and he's right. Unless the Saints are playing your team (and that only leaves Cards fans, Vikings/Cowboys fans and fans of the AFC champ), how can you not root for the Saints? The expectation is rough: Win the NFC. Right now, it's not even clear they can win a Divisional game at home.

As always, Michael Tunison's Designed Rush is a must-read to prepare for the weekend, which he calls the best one of the year.

Pete Carroll in Seattle: He might be cheesy, but it's hard not to get energized by the way he talks about the team and the approach he's taking to the job. He may not win a Super Bowl, but he will make you feel really good about not winning it.

NFL Awards Watch: Drew Brees earned SN's Offensive Player of the Year award, in a bit of an upset over Peyton Manning (assume Chris Johnson never had a chance, which is a shame, given the record-breaking season).

NFL Coaching Carousel: Jack Del Rio is staying with the Jaguars, putting his career into the "Costanza-at-PlayNow" stage, where he doesn't appear to be leaving unless the team pays up, which they won't. At least owner Wayne Weaver can insist the team draft Tim Tebow.

NBA Talking Points: How to stop the Lakers? Hope Kobe's back spasms flare up so that he sits out the 4th. That seemed to work for the Spurs. (Will it be in effect for the Mavs?)

McGwire Watch: Besides his insistence that PEDs didn't — y'know — actually improve his performance, the only thing that could really undermine Mark McGwire's image-rehab tour is if he was lying. And that's exactly what Jose Canseco says Mac is still doing. Given that Canseco has more honesty cred than his former Bash Brother, it's something to consider.

MLB PED Scandal: Before Goose Gossage pulls the Hall of Fame ladder up behind him, I would like someone to ask him if he ever — EVER — used any form of amphetamines now banned by baseball as "performance enhancing." Any greenies, any "clubhouse coffee." Can someone please ask him?

Hot Stove: Given the way the Mariners are spending to get competitive, there is no reason to believe they won't be able to lock up King Felix for the long-term, as the foundation of the team for the next half-decade or more.

The Last Word: "Will You Marry Me?" Kudos to Colt McCoy on the style with which he proposed to his girlfriend. He got more time on the field for the proposal than he did in the national title game.

Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for and blogs daily at Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at


This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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