Kiffin wouldn't be in a great situation in Knoxville either.
After losing to UCLA 38-28, Southern Cal's head coach Lane Kiffin proved why he is a bad fit for a competitive college football program. Tennessee fans and alumni would have been down his throat for not being able to compete in the SEC at this point.
What's even worse is that his failure this season is in the Pac-12. It's not nearly the power conference that the SEC is. According to College Football Talk's Twitter feed, Southern Cal is part of a very dubious stat:
By my count, USC is the first preseason No. 1 team to lose four games that season since Auburn in 1984.— CollegeFootballTalk (@CFTalk) November 17, 2012
That's not a great stat to be a part of. If anyone would have told me that Southern Cal would be 7-4 with losses to Arizona and UCLA before the season started, I would have told them to stop day dreaming and start being realistic. Southern Cal legitimately has the talent to be the top team in college football. Unfortunately, their coaching staff doesn't.
Kiffin can't win with the talent he has in LA. What would make Knoxville different?
Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley have very similar problems this season. Neither one can beat a ranked team. Against teams that are in the top 25 when both teams play, Tennessee is 0-5 while Southern Cal is 0-3. Kiffin has kept the games competitive, but so has Dooley.
However, when you are trying to win championships in the SEC or any other conference, you have to win against top-25 teams. You also have to win against the teams that have the talent to compete with anyone. Both teams have lost to a school like that—Arizona for Southern Cal and Missouri for Tennessee.
Unfortunately for Derek Dooley, he is on the hot seat for not being able to win an SEC game this year. He will have to win the last two games versus Vanderbilt and Kentucky to save bowl eligibility and not completely bomb the 2012 football season.
Lane Kiffin will be given a second shot in the Pac-12; he wouldn't have been afforded the same luxury in the SEC for the job he's done this year. He has multiple first-round talents on both sides of the ball. His inability to win any games against good teams makes it look like his record will be have been just as dreadful as Dooley's regardless of the talent difference in Knoxville.
Tyler Bray would look similar to Matt Barkley in his QB development
As a whole, Tyler Bray and Matt Barkley have similar levels of talent, and both could still wind up as first-round picks in the NFL. However, neither quarterback is a clutch game-winner in the fourth quarter. Bray has been able to improve on the little things every year.
Barkley looks like he has regressed in his senior year to a dink-and-dunk passer who is more reliant on his receivers making plays than throwing them open when need be. I'd be amazing to see what Bray could do with Marquise Lee and Robert Woods—both potential high first-round picks—over Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson—projected second- and third-round picks.
Barkley hits many routes that give his talented pair of seniors a shot to gain yards after the catch. Bray hits many routes that are a product of his great throws and the receivers getting open. The biggest difference in the two quarterbacks is their decision making.
Kiffin's coaching would have kept Bray as the uber-talented but underperforming quarterback he was his freshman year. When a quarterback doesn't progress, the team doesn't either, and Tennessee would be sitting out of a bowl game just like they are with Dooley.
All stats used are from ESPN.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.