Tennessee Volunteers' Lane Kiffin:A Glimpse at The Future

tre wellsCorrespondent IJune 25, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 20:  A general view of Neyland Stadium before the start of the Florida Gators versus Tennessee Volunteers on September 20, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

University of Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin doesn’t pull any punches. He also doesn’t connect on a lot of them either. But to listen to his philosophy behind being successful, you realize that he really may not need to.

In his first several months on the job Kiffin has made negative news the old-fashioned way. He’s earned it.

With secondary recruiting violations being reported in Knoxville more often than a Brett Favre come back, some people around the college football sector have been wondering aloud if Kiffin truly knows what he is doing.

But Kiffin has also landed a top 10 recruiting class in only handful of months, and put together an intense and energetic coaching staff that has players excited about playing football for the Volunteers.

So maybe Kiffin doesn’t excel in compliance. No one is perfect right? I don’t think that Kiffin was brought to U.T. to be a compliance director. I also don’t think athletic director Mike Hamilton expects him to be one either.

He was, however, brought in to restore some of the luster that had faded from the program in recent years. Without the benefit of having played the first game, he has already started that process.

So where knowledge, and execution of recruiting rules, may not necessarily be his strong point, Kiffin is focusing rather, on what is.

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For someone who critics claim may not know what he is doing, Kiffin actually has a plan.

A very detail oriented workaholic, and schedule slave, his philosophy of igniting a non-existent offense is similar to his handling of his coaching responsibilities.

He isn’t focusing on what a player can’t do on the field, but rather what he can do and then applying that to his offense.

In an interview with Dave Hooker on GoVols Xtra, Kiffin says of his younger players, “find out what they do really well and focus on that and make them do that.”

It’s a simple philosophy, but one that may get overlooked more often than not, as we all have sat in front of our T.V.s and screamed “why are they running Joe outside! You know he can’t turn the corner!”

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Some will argue to spend your time working on your weaknesses to make you a better overall player or person. Kiffin takes a different approach with the youngsters.

He goes on to say during the interview that when dealing with running backs that don’t pass protect well, “if they can’t protect, put them in a situation where they don’t protect.”

He compares the system he is trying to put in play at U.T. to the one they implemented at Southern Cal for getting freshman on the field early and often.

“We have a system that has been great over the years of making guys into freshman All-Americans, playing them right away by focusing on what they can do extremely well.”

It seems to be working as well, as early reports from Knoxville have talked about intense and physical practices. Excitement breeds more excitement and it’s apparent that this coaching staff has infused this team with confidence and energy.

Kiffin has brought in a handful of extremely talented players. In addition he inherited a team where the cupboard wasn’t exactly bare. By getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers and letting them doing what they do best, he has a chance of resurrecting an offense left for dead last year.

His goal will be to come closer in numbers to the 2007 U.T. offense which ranked 4th in the S.E.C. by scoring over 33 points a game. Couple that with a defense that was 4th in the nation last year and Kiffin may very well back up the talk that got him the job.

To Kiffin’s credit, he has done an excellent job of staffing positions with some of the best in the field. Monte Kiffin, his father, is a defensive specialist. Ed Orgeron and Lance Thompson are recruiting gurus.

Maybe (Lane) Kiffin should choose his battles and hire a compliance secretary, adhering to his own philosophy of allowing people to do what they do extremely well.

After all, the reason mike Hamilton brought him here was to win games.

I’m sure Hamilton hopes Kiffin does that……extremely well.