If you have read just about any article that advocates Lane Kiffin,USC, the Pac-12, or just the West Coast in general you will find many pieces of well articulated verbiage that explains how Lane Kiffin might have been wrong, but now that he is home and enfolded in the warm embrace of the Trojans that everything will be forgiven. He is the prodigal son returned, sure he committed a few violations what's the big deal? It happened at Tennessee, so who cares?
So what did happen?
Well, Kiffin was hired into a program with the full understanding that he was putting together a very high paid staff including his father that would pretty much engulf other SEC teams in terms of experience and expertise. It was okay though, when you are investing in the future you break out the checkbook. What do you do when you prepare for the future? Well, you allow your investment to grow. You don't go out and invest in anything else, that's for sure.
Oops, off course. Oh yeah, then in the process of building a program you start off a tenure by estranging literally everyone affiliated or associated with the SEC. What else, hmmm? Oh yeah. You stick your foot in your mouth by accusing a nationally renowned championship coach on TV. Hey don't broadcast that! Oops too late. Damn you ESPN!
Now what? How about we start recruiting our first class with less than scrupulous methods. Everybody does it. Shhhh. It' not like we'll lose a national title or anything. We'll just report the little stuff to keep the Infractions Committee happy. Hey those are pretty girls. Hey there pretty thing, ever been to South Carolina? You got a nice dress right?
All right let's play some football. Man our roster is going to suck out loud next year wish I wasn't here. Okay I'm bored. Layla don't unpack the china.
Well, it was Hamilton's fault for hiring him...so do we blame Hamilton, Kiffin, or the program itself?
It's silly not to assume that Kiffin advocates of any species won't come to his rescue. After all he was the golden child for many years under his mentor Pete Carroll where he did nothing but good in his role as recruiting and offensive coordinator for USC....or did he? There is also no dispute that he put together some of the finest recruiting classes in the previous decade, but at what cost?
There is no denying that Kiffin is a talented coach, or he would not have progressed as far as he has. But, there is also no denying that some rules are made to be broken. Just ask Reggie Bush or the 2004 BCS Champions.
Or yet still you could ask Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton, who recently resigned from his post amidst the NCAA allegations. Now, granted you could argue that Bruce Pearl also played a part in this, but on the heels of Pearl's infractions alone Hamilton would not be resigning.
So, poor little Tennessee what's the matter? You don't have to vacate a title or a Heisman trophy winner so quit complaining. What did your little school really lose?
Well for one, they lost time. Time to recruit more players. Seeing as how these other players were recruited to play for Kiffin and not under the University banner under which they were promised. Hey Ed, make sure you got all my boys on speed dial. When do classes start again? Which kid is backing out? Ahh don't worry we got that position covered, oops not here....on the other campus WINK WINK.
Uh Lane, we're going to lose a lot of people next year and all of those recruits are needed more than ever. By the way, you're further tarnishing our image so don't do anything crazy like telling them not to go to classes. Okay? Ed you got all of those numbers right? Dad you still like palm trees right? Layla get Knox's diaper bag.
The second thing is reputation. Kiffin people at this point are saying Boo freaking hoo! We lost a national championship! Well, that may be true but at least you didn't have to scramble in the middle of the night for coaches and recruits to save an entire program.
Again who do you blame? Here is a little story that I think fits the situation.
The Scorpion and the Frog
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion
says, "Because if I do, I will die too."
The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp "Why?"
Replies the scorpion: "I can not help it....I am a scorpion"
Now, the allegations are quite clear: Lane Kiffin did not monitor the program as he should have. But are we to really, really believe that he had no knowledge whatsoever of what his staff was doing? Come on.
They do it in the military all the time. The subordinates do their commanding officer's bidding but the chain of command doesn't like it. So, the underlings shoulder the blame so that their general can save face, but still accomplishes what he set out to do. And the lieutenants get a piece of ribbon and a quick promotion, However there is usually a sergeant or two that's left behind to get court-martialed...like David Reaves. Now even if you're a Trojan you can surely admit that leaving behind his wife's own brother is rather scorpion-ish.
Whether you believe or not, the Vols may drown; and if the Vols go down, then so be it. It is only fair should another school suffer the same punishment. But, if Tennessee should drown in the NCAA allegations for failing to promote an atmosphere where the rules are followed...then so should Lane Kiffin. After all, however short of a tenure it might have been he was on the frog's back.
Whatever respect might have existed between schools is gone now, and in it's place is an aura of loathing. Let's embrace that and move on.