This timeline was assembled from our friends at Volquest.com and any credit due or mistakes made rest with them for this very interesting timeline of events.
Last Thursday night, Lane Kiffin and Ed Oregeron planned to fly to San Antonio to begin meeting with parents of prospects at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl; during the same time Alabama was stomping Texas on it's way to a BCS title. Pete Carroll serves as guest analyst for ESPN but never indicates change is coming.
So how did Tennessee go from having a coach hot on the recruiting trail stirring chatter of a top-three class, to beginning a search for a new head coach on January 13? Here is the timeline of events over the last week that has led the Vols to this point.
- By noon Friday, Kiffin, Orgeron and Monte Kiffin are in San Antonio. They don't arrive the previous night in order to accommodate Monte Kiffin's request to join them on the recruiting trip.
Meanwhile, chatter about Carroll leaving USC for the Seattle Seahawks, who fire Jim Mora after just one 5-11 season, is running rampant. Speculation continues throughout the weekend that Carroll is going to accept the Seahawks' offer reported at five years for $35 million.
At the same time, the Vols keep recruiting and pick up key commitments from Ahmad Dixon and Brandon Willis Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
- On Sunday, Kiffin sits courtside with a significant donor for the Vols' win over Kansas in basketball, walking off the court triumphantly with Bruce Pearl as the two shared a hug caught on camera.
By now, Mike Riley of Oregon State and Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans reportedly have told USC no thanks to replace Carroll, who is officially hired by Seattle by this time.
Reports surface that the Trojans then target Jack Del Rio, a USC alumnus and head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Del Rio turns down USC midday Tuesday, though speculation focuses on former NFL coach Steve Mariucci.
Meanwhile, Lane Kiffin begins to be in contact with USC officials Monday night.
It's still considered a long-shot at this point. But when Del Rio apparently says thanks but no thanks, things move at a lightning-quick pace with Kiffin.
- Though he's in Orlando representing UT at the SEC meeting conducted at the AFCA convention there, Kiffin also is in constant contact throughout the day with USC officials, agent Jimmy Sexton, and Vols athletics director Mike Hamilton.
By around 7 p.m. ET, Kiffin has agreed in principle to be the Trojans' next head coach and makes clear he will bring his father, Monte, as well as Orgeron, with him. He also moves swiftly to hire Norm Chow as his offensive coordinator. The two previously worked together at USC, and Chow has just wrapped up a brief stint at rival UCLA.
Tennessee officials around 7:30 inform players of a called meeting at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday night players are confused by the meeting; they already have conducted a
90-minute meeting the previous night that was in preparation of the start of the
spring semester which begins today.
- The story breaks around 8:30 p.m., though speculation has run rampant prior to this. Hamilton is in Denver, Colo., on official business for the University of Tennessee. He receives a very brief, concise phone call from Kiffin informing Hamilton of Kiffin's decision to leave. There will be no changing Kiffin's mind.
During a brief and contentious meeting with players at 9:15, Kiffin is confronted about Orgeron calling current Vol commitments and early enrollees about joining them at Southern Cal. Players place a call on speakerphone and eyewitnesses say that Orgeron is heard trying to recruit players to USC. Kiffin says it's not him and that he has no knowledge of the matter and that he cannot control Orgeron. Kiffin is reminded in blunt, if not explicit, terms that he's the one who hired Orgeron.
Within minutes, Orgeron's university-supplied cell phone is shut off
- After expressing their displeasure in Kiffin's final team meeting, players begin filing out of the Neyland-Thompson Complex where several were overheard calling Kiffin and the departing staff traitors. Defensive end Ben Martin is in the middle of Johnny Majors Blvd. screaming "Bring back Phil, expletive."
- At roughly 9:45, after calling a recruit, Kiffin briefly gives a statement to a group of media members. Kiffin has indicated he will take questions if the TV cameras are not rolling during this time. WBIR news director Bill Shory becomes the centerpiece of the controversy, refusing to allow his station's cameras to be switched off or to not roll video footage during this time. Kiffin then refuses all questions, speaks roughly 90 seconds and leaves.
Kiffin is chased down the hallway and asked questions, finally responding to
what he told players and what their reaction was.
Meanwhile, an angry mob on campus continues to swell in numbers and intensity. Shirts are ripped and burned; signs bear any number of messages, most of them involving the term traitor.
The Rock is painted with an explicit message for Kiffin
- As the players continue to file out the mob gets more rowdy and moves up and down Johnny Majors Blvd. at the sight of headlights or noise of a car, hoping to catch a glimpse of Kiffin so they could offer their "farewell."
- Meanwhile, many support staff members are unable to leave because the crowd
becomes centralized and is blocking the entrance way to the staff parking lot of the Neyland Thompson Sports Complex.
- Around 12:30 a.m., and with a police escort, Kiffin is driven from campus. His luxury car is left in its regular parking spot. Kiffin visits briefly with VolQuest, indicates his plans to work a half-day today and then fly to L.A. to be introduced as Southern Cal's replacement to Carroll. At his home, police are stationed outside to prevent any potential issues with fans.
- Meanwhile, at 3 a.m., Monte Kiffin is still in the complex and indicating he'll spend the night there. Football operations director David Blackburn, a vital cog in this same process a year ago following the firing of Phillip Fulmer, assumes a similar role—an all too familiar position. Blackburn can't spare the time to drive home and hunkers down for a long night inside the complex.
Hamilton has landed a few hours earlier in Nashville but already is in meetings centered on finding Kiffin's replacement. Today at 1:00 p.m., Hamilton will answer questions.
This much is clear to all who witness the bizarre scene unfold:
It's time to figure out the new direction of Tennessee football
(end of Volquest report)
Kiffin's statements entered a new realm of slime, even for him. Everyone knew Orgeron was calling recruits at Kiffin's request yet Kiffin claimed he no control over what Orgeron was doing.
Are you hearing that USC fans? Here are your two choices, and they are your only two choices, you have either just hired a bald faced liar, (which has been proven numerous other times), or you have just hired a head coach who can't even control his own assistants, much less his team.
Are you feeling better about your hire by the minute?
Just when you thought the offseason may be boring, you can always count on Kiffin to stir the pot.