A mere 14 months ago, Lane Kiffin left his position as head coach of the NFL's Oakland Raiders to take over as the leader of the Tennessee Volunteers football team. Phil Fulmer, his longstanding and highly successful predecessor, had been let go from the club after a dismal 5-7 season, and Kiffin's youth, enthusiasm, and supposed love for the game were going to bring UT back to national prominence.
So much for wishful thinking.
Less than 48 hours after former USC head coach Pete Carroll accepted a position with the Seattle Seahawks, Kiffin held a one minute—exactly one minute—press conference to "explain" why he was leaving the job only one year in.
Not that any explanation is warranted, desired, or justified.
Nor should anyone be surprised at the events unfolding. Kiffin's reputation as a jerk precedes him.
After all, Kiffin is the same person who deflected questions in 2007 concerning his leaving the Raiders after one year as nothing more than rumors that weren't worth paying any attention to, and that he had no plans to leave Oakland.
Al Davis—yes, he of the Elvis fixation—fired Kiffin within the month, stating at the time that he found Kiffin to be "a flat-out liar" and said that he "brought disgrace to the organization."
When Al Davis accuses you of being a disgrace, then one thing is for sure: as Ricky Ricardo used to say to his wife, "You got some 'splainin' to do."
Nevertheless, Kiffin was offered the job at UT less than a year after being let go from the Raiders, and immediately set about making friends (read: burning bridges). First, he hired a former staff member from the Raiders right out from under coach Tom Cable's nose before the NFL season was even over.
Cable—who doesn't seem to be the kind of guy you want on your bad side, if rumors and reports of his anger management issues hold any water—responded by threatening to "confront" Kiffin about it, but apparently thought better of wasting his time.
Next, Kiffin went about endearing himself to the college football world in general, and the SEC in particular.
With all the petulance he could muster, he publicly accused Florida head coach Urban Meyer of recruiting violations during a booster meeting in February of 2009. Not only was he wrong, but he himself violated the rules in the manner in that he addressed the issue.
Next he took aim at the high school of one Nu'keese Richardson, one of Kiffin's prized freshman prospects.
More on Nu'Keese in a moment...
Apparently, according to Kiffin, the good people at Pahokee High were not technologically advanced enough to operate the high-end fax equipment required to send Richardson's signing papers back to Coach Tennessee, so Kiffin asked Nu'Keese to send them in from somewhere else to make sure they got there.
Promised apologies from Kiffin to the school and its staff were promised, but were not forthcoming.
Oh, you want to know about Nu'Keese? Well, he and another freshman prospect, Mark Edwards were ultimately dismissed from Tennessee's program after being charged with armed robbery in Knoxville in November 2009.
How's that for a recruiting class?
Kiffin also violated the rules when he referred to current UT running back Bryce Brown as a "great player" while he was still in high school; NCAA regulations prohibit coaches from discussing players that are recruitable from being discussed in any public forum.
Kiffin made the comments on a local radio show.
Kiffin further endeared himself to the SEC by vilifying the Georgia Bulldogs' recruiting tactics, which did not go over well with the Georgia folks.
And lastly, Kiffin made friends all over South Carolina when he was quoted by both Alshon Jeffery and his high school coach, Walter Wilson, stating that if Jeffery signed with the Gamecocks football program, he would amount to nothing more than a gas-pumper the rest of his life, just like the rest of the guys who came out of that program.
And now this.
In his one-minute press conference, Kiffin made mention that everything happened just really fast, and that USC was "probably" the only place he would have left Tennessee for. He mumbled something about thanks for the support he had received, and made the claim that he was leaving the program better than it was when he found it.
There was very little in the way of actual explanation for his actions, other than he "and his family" had made their decision in very short order.
He took no questions, looked extremely antsy while standing at the podium, and bolted from the room, aparently to pack his office, sell his house, and move back to sunny Southern California.
They can have him.
The big silver lining is that he is taking his recruiting director with him. At least maybe Tennessee won't be bringing any more felons on board for a while.
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