From a quick glace you would most likely think that any fan of the Tennessee Volunteers would despise Lane Kiffin.
That May be true.
But let us take a different look at the “Lane Kiffin Chronicle” we just endured.
We begin the story on December 1, 2008. Tennessee’s football team carried a record of 5-7 and was doomed to spend the holidays at home for the second time in four years. Phillip Fulmer had just walked out the door, taking his hometown charm and southern accent with him. The entire state had a yearning for change.
For better or for worse…they got it.
A 33 year-old Lane Kiffin walks to the podium. As a long time friend of mine put it, “He oozed confidence.” Kiffin was a failed NFL coach, but had success at the college level. Working under Pete Carroll at USC, Kiffin was an Offensive Coordinator.
He coached two Heisman winners in Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. As a Vol fan, I loved the move. The UT offense had been disastrous at times.
It seemed like a very sensible pick.
Lane also brought his legendary father, Monte Kiffin. Later, he would bring in Ed Orgeron, Jim Chaney, and James Cregg. It was a dream staff! NFL experience was at almost every position.
What could go wrong?
Fast forward to the night of January 12, 2010. Pete Carroll had left LA for Seattle and most expected USC to get a big time hire from a former NFL coach or an established college coach.
If you were watching ESPN like I was, your jaw probably hit the floor when reports that Lane Kiffin had agreed to be the Head Coach at Southern Cal. We, then, got a 5 minute press conference and he was gone.
That night, I felt the biggest emotional shift I’ve ever felt. I went from admiring our coach, to hating that backstabbing former coach.
But, is that how we should remember it? Should we try to forget all we did in the 2009 season? Should we forget the black jerseys, the huge win against Georgia, and even the twenty-fifth straight win over Kentucky?
I think not.
I believe we should remember these last 21 months for what they were. An emotional roller coaster ride. As Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.”
We all believed it to be the best of times when Lane gave us a breathe of fresh air during his time here. But, looking back from where we are now, most would claim they were the worst of times.
I will continue to remember it as a roller coaster ride.
Whether for better or worse.