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Lane Kiffin; the next OBC?

December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving was a busy week for me and the LCG, consisting of 4 different family dinners. This mini-tour of Virginia put a halt on updating the blog for the last couple of days. I am still trying to recover from the outrageous amount of Thanksgiving food I ingested. Although I knew I wouldn't be able to update the blog I figured we wouldn't miss much. Considering once you take out the NFL games and the various college tournaments Thanksgiving is typically a slow sports related weekend. But I couldn't have been more wrong. Plaxico pulled a Cheddar then calls himself Harris Smith and subsequently gets criminal charges, the Nittany Lion mascot got a DUI, the BCS shafted Texas, the Redskins inducted Sean Taylor into their ring of honor, Jay Cutler says he is better than Favre and then plays like it, and Starbury unleashed his fury through the press.

But for myself there was only one story that had me searching for information any chance I got. The story that had me intrigued and inquisitve was the news of Lane Kiffin becoming the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee. While watching the UGA-Bama game with Teach and the LCG, I was actually contemplating this aloud.I continued pondering this possibility throughout his own firing and the forcing out of Phil. I heard rumors of his hiring starting early last week and than ESPN got on board late in the week. All that was left was the announcement from AD Mike Hamilton and the press conference introducing the 33 year-old also-ran of Oakland. That press conference happened today at 2:00 pm EST.

So as one of maybe 500 people in the World who roots for both UT and the Raiders, I find myself being both excited and fearful of the future of the University of Tennessee. I am excited as he brings a new youthful exuberance to the University and its athletes. He has proven the type of talent he can recruit to play in his time at USC. With Tennessee's facilities, history, and fanbase it should make his job that much easier. However Kiffin has already let go of the four main assistants. Most notably DC John Chavis, who was in charge of a top flight defense leading them to being among the best in the country despite the team having a bad junior varsity offense. I am fearful that letting go of Chavis, who is one of the best defensive coaches in the land and one of the few brightspots of the team over the past couple of years, could be a major mistake.

This past season the offense was the perfect example of the word inept, but most of that can be attributed to the team not being able to execute the intricate Clawfense in such a short time perood. It worries me most that the team won't be dealing with just a new defense but their third new offense in just as many years.

Kiffin has promised to bring an amazing staff with him to Knoxville. A great staff will help sell prospects on the recruiting trail and should help to implement the new systems at a quicker rate. Kiffin's staff is said to include his father Monte Kiffin; who is the architect of the tampa 2 defense, the NFL's highest paid assistant and current defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also from the Kiffin family tree is David Reaves(Lane's brother-in-law) who is the only confirmed coach aside from Lane. Reaves, is in his seventh year on the Gamecocks staff. He was a graduate assistant the first two seasons and he's been a full-time member the past five. Reaves is slated to take over as the recruiting coordinator. Former Ole Miss head coach and current Saints D-Line coach Ed Orgeron is also rumored to be joining the staff. Orgeron and Kiffin worked together at USC. This would give UT two former head coaches on its staff.

Now that we know what the Vols are losing and gaining, what the positives for both sides?
Well the reasons for Lane to take the job are endless; he finally gets to show off his abilities, UT is one of the best football schools in the country, job security(he will be the 3rd coach in the past 33 years), a second chance, biggest recruiting budget in the SEC, etc, etc. But what are the fans getting from Kiffin, apart from a man with a hot wife, a talent for recruiting, and a good staff.? We have absolutely no idea. UT AD Mike Hamilton is essentially replacing a national championship winning coach who played for his university and led his alma-mater to a 152-52 record with a totally unproven commodity who has a record of 5-15. And if we are to believe Kiffin's side of the story in Oakland, he can't even take credit for the 5 total wins on his record.

All of the information coupled with today's press conference has led me to believe that this can only end in one of two ways: as a monster success or an epic failure. When Fulmer was fired, the middle ground was erased. If he is just an average coach its a failure, as you let go of a Tennessee legend for a coach with no connection to the school or state for an extended period of mediocrity. Kiffin has the genes, connections, and now the resources to become a great head coach. Now its up to him to do his part. There will be no Rob Ryan or Al Davis to point the finger at, it is finally his show. He gets to pick the staff, the players, and call the shots. If he fails or succeeds, the fingers will all be pointing in his direction. He could be either the next Mike Shula or Pete Carroll, but who knows? I just hope it works out better than it did for the last fired Raider coach to head to the college game.

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