So one big college program fills its head coaching gap, only to leave another one empty. The big news in college football this morning is that Lane Kiffin has resigned from Tennessee, after only one year as its head coach (replacing ousted long-timer Phillip Fulmer), to take the head coaching job at USC. Southern Cal, remember, was abandoned only Monday by Pete Carroll for the Seattle Seahawks.
This is an interesting move for Kiffin. For one thing, the two schools under closest scrutiny from the NCAA for possible recruiting violations right now are USC and Tennessee, so he’s sort of hopped out of the frying pan and into the fire as far as potential scandals go. For another thing–where’s all his big talk from last year coming into the SEC? He made a couple controversial statements when he was first hired, before he’d ever coached a game in the conference…what happened? Did he come in and realize that it’s a killing field, that perhaps he wasn’t going to hack it with the other programs here? His disappointing record with the Raiders certainly didn’t suggest it; his hiring of his defensive mastermind father, Monty Kiffin, as d-co, shored up the possibility that he might.
Now he’s removed himself and his entire staff to USC, which has fallen from its erstwhile position of dominance in the PAC-10. He does have ties to USC–he was Carroll’s offensive coordinator at one point–so perhaps this was more of the Dream Job for him than Tennessee was. Perhaps Tennessee is a program that needs to be rebuilt in a conference that’s too full of programs currently on top to allow for that rebuilding, and he wanted to go somewhere that would allow him to be immediately successful. USC may or may not be that place, but apparently Kiffin thinks it is. Well. If he doesn’t want to coach in the SEC, then the SEC doesn’t want him coaching here.
Now it’s up to Tennessee to find someone who does.