Why Does Lane Kiffin Always Seem to Have Messy Football Divorces?
If you live outside of Knoxville, Tenn. and have ever heard of apparel store HoundDogs, it's probably because of manager Mitzi Sherill's promotional offer to Tennessee fans angry with Lane Kiffin in January 2010.
Sherill's video is an often-used soundbite on FOX Sports Radio's nationally syndicated Petros and Money Show, serving as a reminder of the animus Kiffin accrued among the Volunteer fanbase.
Indeed, Tennessee fans gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "Fire Kiffin."
Kiffin's departure from Tennessee was among the uglier splits between a coach and program, and the more visceral response from Vol faithful could easily be attributed to SEC zealotry.
However, it was one step in what has been a pattern in Kiffin’s short career.
Los Angeles Daily News beat writer Scott Wolf detailed a rather dramatic series of events leading up to and following athletic director Pat Haden’s firing of Kiffin early Sunday morning.
An eyewitness tells me Lane Kiffin "never saw it coming" when pulled off bus to be fired. Thought ordinary matter to be discussed #USC— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 29, 2013
If you are just waking up, Lane Kiffin fired early this morning after Pat Haden pulled him off bus at LAX private terminal #USC— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 29, 2013
#USC A.D. Pat Haden met with advisers in tiny room during third quarter of ASU loss. This where decision was made to fire Lane Kiffin— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 29, 2013
While skeptics argue the particulars, the undeniable crux is that Haden felt compelled to fire a head coach in the middle of the night, one month into a season. That speaks volumes.
Frustration built amid a 1-5 finish to the Trojans’ erstwhile championship-aspiring season. Frustration bubbled over into the offseason with the loss of ballyhooed prospects Eddie Vanderdoes, Kylie Fitts, Max Redfield, Eldridge Massington and Sebastian Larue from the 2013 signing class for various reasons.
Four of the five landed with Trojan rivals.
The underwhelming start to 2013 only exacerbated the problem, until Saturday’s 62-41 rout at Arizona State transformed frustration into rancor.
Trojan fan message boards Saturday night read like the live-blogging of the burning of Rome.
And much like Nero, Kiffin’s fiddling in a fateful third quarter sealed his fate.
While Knoxville burned—figuratively, and literally in the case of those aforementioned t-shirts—Kiffin coolly touted USC as his dream job.
Even as the dream devolved into nightmare, with calls for his ouster audible over nationally-televised game broadcasts, Kiffin never ranted.
Arguably the most emotion Kiffin ever showed in his ill-fated tenure at USC was when he scurried away prematurely from a post-practice press conference.
His repeated “it is what it is” responses to suggestions he was on the hot seat through the offseason were evidentiary of why Kiffin has repeatedly elicited such emotion in his various coaching stops.
Haden is not the type to get before television cameras and chastise Kiffin in the spirited manner late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis did in 2008.
However, Haden did see it fit to follow Davis in one notable manner: divorcing from Kiffin early into a season.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.
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