College Football's Year of Non-Surprises

David Fidler Correspondent IJanuary 14, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13:  New head coach of the USC Trojans Lane Kiffin speaks to the media during a press conference at Heritage Hall January 13, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

It's been quite an offseason for college football with a quite a few surprises.

But were any of those surprises really that surprising?

Let's start with Mark Mangino, the erstwhile coach of the University of Kansas Jayhawks. He took a historically second rate Big 12 team and, over the course of eight seasons, turned them into contenders. He went 12-1 in the 2007 which culminated in an Orange Bowl win.

However, it would appear he's got serious anger issues. More specifically, he was accused of yelling at and grabbing players as well as other inappropriate and violent actions.

On Dec. 3, 2009, Mangino resigned from his position in what could fairly be called a mutual parting of the ways between him and Kansas.

Now, is all of this terribly surprising to anybody that has ever watched Mark Mangino in action?

Meanwhile, Mike Leach was the very popular coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. His Red Raiders went an impressive 84-43 in his 10 years in Lubbock.

On Dec. 30, 2009, Leach was fired for locking a concussed player in a shed near the Raiders practice facility. Leach claimed that the player was faking his injury.

The funny thing is that Leach has never denied locking the player in the shed. The issue with him was whether or not the player had a concussion.

Regardless, while I wouldn't have specifically predicted Leach to have been involved in these sort of actions, I can't say I am surprised that they exist in college football. At the very least, I figured somebody would get caught at some point.

Moving on to the SEC, Urban Meyer is the extremely successful University of Florida Gator head coach. In his five years in Gainesville, he has won two national championships, been in three BCS bowls, and has compiled a 57-10 record.

On Dec. 26, 2009, Meyer announced that he would be resigning after the Sugar Bowl due to health concerns. Those health concerns, including heart issues and headaches, seemed obviously stress related.

Meyer has since declared that rather than resigning, he will be taking a leave of absence. All signs point to him being back with the team for summer camp next season.

I suppose the timing of this was surprising. However, having seen Meyer stalk the sidelines and answer questions in press conferences, this is hardly shocking.

He hardly ever smiles  He fidgets like he is walking on hot coals. He looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. 

In other news, on Jan. 10, Pete Carroll, the hugely successful coach of the USC Trojans, announced that he would be leaving Southern Cal to take a job as head coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.


Not particularly when you consider that the NCAA had just finished a probe looking into allegations surrounding players—Heisman winner Reggie Bush—receiving money and other improper gifts.

Obviously, at this time one can only speculate on what the NCAA came up with, but it doesn't look good for USC.

This brings us to the final chapter in the pseudo-surprising annals of 2010 college football offseason.

It concerns Lane Kiffin, the former coach of the University of Tennessee Volunteers and the new coach of the USC Trojans.

Kiffin's first head coaching job came at the ripe age of 32. He was given the reins of the Oakland Raiders.

He proceeded to compile a decidedly unimpressive record of 5-15 in his time at the helm. He was unceremoniously fired after his fourth game in his second season.

A great deal of what happened after that is based on here say and assumptions. However, it is public record that Kiffin and Raiders Owner Al Davis had a war of words in the press.

Furthermore, Kiffin sued the Raiders for pay he says he is owed.

Before being hired by the Vols, all accounts seemed to paint Kiffin as somewhat distrustful. Moreover, those same accounts painted him as being a brash loudmouth.

Whether any of this is true or not is debatable, but that was the reputation he carried with him when he arrived in Knoxville.

In one year at Tennessee he compiled a 7-6 record, losing the Chick-fil-A Bowl in an ugly fashion to Virginia Tech.

However, more notable than his coaching record were the recruiting violations and SEC infractions he picked up in that one year.

On Jan. 12, 2010, two days after Pete Carroll's resignation, it was announced that Kiffin would be taking over head coaching duties at USC, effective immediately.

In other words, in one year as the Vols coach, all he managed to do was pile up infractions and lose in somewhat embarrassing fashion.

Then, as soon as a more attractive ship came along—mind you, head coach at the University of Tennessee is a pretty attractive ship on the college football landscape—he bailed on the Vols.

Knowing what seemed to be common knowledge about Kiffin before he became the Vols head coach, is any of this really surprising?

From my point of view, the only surprising element of all of the college football offseason hoopla thus far, is that USC would hire Kiffin.


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