UT introduces Lane Kiffin as new head coach
New UT head coach, Lane Kiffin, talks about his experience and growing up learning the game. Watch »
New UT head coach, Lane Kiffin, talks about his experience recruiting and what his plan is for UT recruitment. Watch »
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With an eye to the future, a tip of the cap to the past and a few quips mixed in, Tennessee introduced Lane Kiffin as its new head football coach Monday afternoon at a press conference inside Neyland Stadium.
Athletic director Mike Hamilton hailed the 33-year-old former Oakland Raiders head coach and Southern California offensive coordinator as an energetic coach and a charismatic recruiter.
"He has made a significant impression on me in the short time I have known him," Hamilton said, "and I know he will have the same effect on the entire Volunteer family in short order."
Kiffin spent Sunday in Knoxville meeting with his new team and contacting recruits. Before leaving on a recruiting trip Monday evening, Kiffin told media and boosters gathered in the Wolf-Kaplan Center he would work for his new football program.
"I want the Tennessee family to know this is what I'm going to give you: I'm going to roll my sleeves up and go to work," he said. "I'm not promising you how many wins we're going to have, how many championships . . . But no one's going to outwork us. No one's going to outwork me as a head coach. No one's going to outwork our staff that we put together. That's the promise I'm giving you. The wins will come after that."
Kiffin signed a memorandum of understanding Sunday morning, which included several items that will be included in his finished contract:
* Kiffin's deal runs through 2014 and averages $2.375 million over the six-year deal. He will earn $2 million this season.
* Tennessee would have to pay $7.5 million to buy out Kiffin's contract in the next two years. That sum drops to $5 million in 2013.
* Kiffin would owe UT $1 million if he left in 2009. That sum drops by $200,000 each year over the course of his contract.
According to Hamilton, negotiations began with a six-year deal.
Kiffin replaces Phillip Fulmer, who was fired Nov. 3 after 16-plus seasons at UT in which he guided the Vols to two SEC championships, a BCS national championship and 152 wins.
Kiffin acknowledged Fulmer several times Monday, saying he'd like to develop a relationship with his predecessor at some point in the future. He also embraced Tennessee's tradition and the expectations of competing for championships.
"The bar here is extremely high," Kiffin said. "I love it. If the bar wasn't there, I wouldn't want to be here. Coach Fulmer's done an unbelievable job. Remarkable. One of the greatest runs in college football. That's the truth. Like I said, I'm here to continue that and see what we can do."
Four assistant coaches - Greg Adkins, Stan Drayton, Jason Michael and Latrell Scott - have been retained for at least the short term. Kiffin said those coaches will be on the road recruiting and will be evaluated during the process.
Kiffin also said he will interview those four as well as other candidates to fill out his staff. Only 29-year-old former South Carolina quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator David Reaves, who is Kiffin's brother-in-law, has been officially hired. His position is to be determined.
Kiffin could perhaps even serve as his own offensive coordinator. In Oakland, he called offensive plays before turning over those duties to an assistant during the preseason this year.
"The only way I'm not going to call the plays, it's got to be somebody that I feel great with, that I have a relationship with already that I can really trust," he said.
UT's four defensive coaches were told Sunday they would not be retained. Kiffin said multiple times Monday that decision was not based on his evaluation of longtime defensive coordinator John Chavis and his staff as coaches, but that he had other coaches in mind.
That could include Kiffin's father, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
ESPN reported Sunday that the elder Kiffin, who makes more than $2 million in Tampa, would join his son's staff at UT. That move likely would not be announced until after Tampa Bay's season is finished.
Still, the financial resources are there to aggressively pursue assistants. Hamilton said that his new head coach has been given "significantly" more money to hire a staff than the $1.935 million UT paid its nine assistants this year.
"Suffice it to say it's aggressive," Hamilton said. "There's no doubt if he lands his first wave of folks he's interested in, it'll have an impact."
Kiffin said piecing together a new staff would take time.
"When it's all said and done, you'll be extremely happy with the staff that comes here," he said. "Give us time on it, and understand it's most important that we do it right, not that we do it fast."
The way Kiffin handled Monday's introduction already made an impact on at least one of his new players.
"(Kiffin) knows how much we love Coach Fulmer and his staff," said linebacker Nick Reveiz, who attended Monday's announcement with several teammates and his father, former UT kicker Fuad Reveiz. "He definitely won me over talking about the respect he has for people in the past and the people who are here now. That's definitely what made me buy in."
Kiffin's nod to Tennessee traditions - and a quip about SEC East rival Florida - could help some others buy in, too.
"I'm really looking forward to embracing some of the great traditions at the University of Tennessee, for instance the Vol Walk, running through the T, singing 'Rocky Top' all night long after we beat Florida next year. It's going to be a blast," Kiffin said, drawing cheers from boosters in the crowd.
"That line was Mike's idea, by the way. All right Urban?" Kiffin said, referencing Gators coach Urban Meyer.
Kiffin also spoke candidly about his time in Oakland, where he compiled a 5-15 record before being fired by eccentric owner Al Davis earlier this season.
"To go be a head coach in the NFL and deal with the personalities in the NFL and the players and to deal with a completely dysfunctional franchise, that's something that's really valuable," Kiffin said, drawing laughs. "That wasn't a joke. You can't go to school and learn crisis management like going there."
Now, though, Kiffin said he plans to be at Tennessee "for a long time" and doesn't see himself returning to the NFL. His wife, Layla, attended Monday's announcement. The couple has two daughters, Landry, 3, and Pressley, 2, and is expecting a third child in January.
The idea of raising his family in Knoxville, coupled with UT's resources and ability to recruit nationally, ultimately led Kiffin to accept the job.
"Everything's in place," he said. "We don't need another building. We don't need another weight. We've got enough here to win."