Hamilton: 'it' made Kiffin stand out

Vols' AD consulted USC's Carroll

Did UT make the right choice in Lane Kiffin as football coach?

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Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton could have easily played it safe when he made the biggest hire of his career.

UT interviewed plenty of solid candidates for its football head coaching job. But only one had the upside that Hamilton coveted: Lane Kiffin.

"That's what I'm betting on here," said Hamilton on Tuesday on the News Sentinel's radio show, The Sports Page, a day after introducing Kiffin as head coach. "I think all the guys that we looked at and interviewed could come in and do the job well and win eight or nine games regularly and maybe do better than that in some years.

"But what you're trying to do is you're trying to find the guy that has 'it'. For me, age, energy, recruiting ability, focus, bloodlines, all those things, Lane Kiffin had the most upside."

With that upside comes a risky downside. With such a short track record as a head coach (less than two seasons with the Oakland Raiders), Kiffin's ability to discipline his players could be questioned.

Hoping to address that concern, Hamilton talked to Kiffin's former boss, Southern California head coach Pete Carroll.

"There's always a gamble in anything you do," Hamilton said. "All I can go on is what Pete Carroll told me about that. He said that he actually learned some things from Lane as it related to discipline.

"I've got to trust Pete. He's had a pretty good success record over the years."

Hamilton received a great answer from Carroll, but knows it's no guarantee.

"Talk's cheap until it comes to fruition," Hamilton said. "We'll see what happens."

UT's disastrous 5-7 season in 2008 all but guaranteed that a significant press conference would be held in early December.

Perhaps it would be changes to Phillip Fulmer's staff. Perhaps it would be to announce Fulmer's departure.

Instead, it was to formally announce Kiffin as UT's 21st head football coach.

Had UT waited until after the season to dismiss Fulmer, Hamilton is sure that Kiffin's press conference would have never happened, at least not in Knoxville.

"I don't think Lane Kiffin would have been available," Hamilton said.

While the timing allowed Hamilton to get his man, he maintains it wasn't planned that way.

"That wasn't the reason for doing what we did, because we didn't know Lane then," Hamilton said. "The process allowed us to get on about our business and bring it to conclusion so we could hit the ground recruiting.

"From an emotional standpoint, change is never good. From a standpoint of letting our new coach get on the road yesterday and get out of the gate in the right way, in this case it was beneficial."

Yet in some ways the change kept things the same. Kiffin's resume presents UT with a tireless recruiter and an offensive coach willing to turn over his defense to an experienced coordinator.

Hamilton acknowledged that some of Kiffin's characteristics are quite Fulmer-like: "The determination to succeed, the competitive fire and certainly Phillip has always been about a very intense approach to recruiting. Those are things that kind of hit me.

"Then there are things that are very different."

One difference is that Kiffin isn't a UT guy. Fulmer knew the lyrics to "Rocky Top" before Kiffin was born. So if Kiffin has success, will he simply use UT as a big orange stepping stone?

Many said the same about UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Now Pearl seems content in Knoxville thanks to pay increases, facility upgrades and something far less tangible.

"That's a day-to-day relationship-building experience you go through," Hamilton said. "We all want to work with people we trust and feel good about coming to work with everyday.

"We all want to be compensated for our efforts but there's something to be said for living in a great place, working in a great place, feeling like you have the resources to be successful and the support to be successful."

If Kiffin ends up as coveted as Pearl, Hamilton's gamble will look like a winning lottery ticket.

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Comments » 259

ncvol17 writes:

Go Vols Go Kiffin

tnbigg writes:

Fantastic hire Mike...

thesavageorange writes:

5027!

5005 Kiff 5005!

tenuscvol writes:

Good Job Mr. Hamilton!...

GoVols!

Good Luck to the UF football team.

Kill Bama!

blitzshoot writes:

What a difference a year makes. Good luck Coach Kiffin.
Most of all, best wishes on the new boy coming in January.
Make sure he has a jersey.

ncvol17 writes:

His wife is 8 mo pregnant isn't she? She should name the baby Peyton - then Lane would really be part of the UT family

Peyton Neyland Kiffin -- has a ring to it doesn't it?

BIGEJ writes:

Time will tell and I am hoping for a good time....GO VOLS

southernson writes:

I AGREE he has IT!! And Tennessee will soon have It in the trophy case baby!!! IT GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL

iowavol writes:

Good luck Coach Kiffin, hope you are successful and I hope you are indeed the second coming of Bruce Pearl. There are a lot of people counting on you. I also hope you can stand the two faced lying AD you have as a boss. Do you get the tone from Hamilton that he actually made this decision? We recognized that Mr. Haslam was the second person you thanked on accepting the job. What a waste of air Hamilton is.

blitzshoot writes:

in response to ncvol17:

His wife is 8 mo pregnant isn't she? She should name the baby Peyton - then Lane would really be part of the UT family

Peyton Neyland Kiffin -- has a ring to it doesn't it?

Sounds good. Neyland is a must. Should had been in the contract.

adamsck#591720 writes:

I have not been this hopeful about UT football since 1999. Good luck on the trail Lane. Go Vols.

shotgun writes:

I don't know about that one.....how about "Major Kiffin"?

VolOrange writes:

We are fortunate to have an AD with the foresight of Mike Hamilton. He has made some great decisions for UTK.

1. Hire Bruce Pearl
2. Fire Fulmer
3. Hire Lane Kiffin

Keep up the good work.

blitzshoot writes:

This is UT's chance to put 100,000 in Neyland for the Orange/White game. I'm already planning a trip with my son to be there.

vols1314 writes:

What kind of offense does Coach Kiffin run?

Volborn writes:

in response to vols1314:

What kind of offense does Coach Kiffin run?

Well, I guess you'll just have to watch the Bucs on Sunday to see the defense.

ncvol17 writes:

Book 2 more for the O & W game this upcoming year. I'll drive 6 hrs to see the new Vols scrimmage and eat a Vol dog or 2.

luvorange writes:

in response to blitzshoot:

This is UT's chance to put 100,000 in Neyland for the Orange/White game. I'm already planning a trip with my son to be there.

We will see you there! Bringing our two oldest sons, have to assure the allegience, growing up in Alabama.

The_Mayor writes:

I love the way Adams insinuates he has some sort of inside track on who all Hamilton interviewed, yet he fails to follow through with a single example beyond Kiffin (the obvious).

I wish the best for Coach Kiffin, and I think he'll do a fine job if he can live up to his words in his press conference, and of course, if the UT fan base will give him a fair opportunity. The latter is my greater concern.

blitzshoot writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

She be awesome to see him finally in Neyland.
Didn't Bama set the record for a spring game with Saban's first?

blitzshoot writes:

in response to luvorange:

We will see you there! Bringing our two oldest sons, have to assure the allegience, growing up in Alabama.

From Florida ourselves. Hasn't been fun the past few years.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

He needs to get his offensive staff together. That's the only thing about the press conference I didn't like after thinking back on it. We obviously have our defense ready but what we needed was offense and he doesn't seem to really know what he's going to do there. That's a little troubling.

blitzshoot writes:

in response to 7_Game_Maxims:

He needs to get his offensive staff together. That's the only thing about the press conference I didn't like after thinking back on it. We obviously have our defense ready but what we needed was offense and he doesn't seem to really know what he's going to do there. That's a little troubling.

Did he run the pro-style at USC? If I remember, his receivers were big and fast.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to blitzshoot:

Did he run the pro-style at USC? If I remember, his receivers were big and fast.

That's the way I hear it too. West Coast / Pro Style. He needs to go see the SEC Championship Game and see what he's up against.

blitzshoot writes:

in response to 7_Game_Maxims:

That's the way I hear it too. West Coast / Pro Style. He needs to go see the SEC Championship Game and see what he's up against.

Not a bad idea. It would be smart on his part.

tquillen#249140 writes:

in response to VolOrange:

We are fortunate to have an AD with the foresight of Mike Hamilton. He has made some great decisions for UTK.

1. Hire Bruce Pearl
2. Fire Fulmer
3. Hire Lane Kiffin

Keep up the good work.

#1 was a great decision. #2 and #3 -- it remains to be seen.

pabashia#208095 writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

I love the way Adams insinuates he has some sort of inside track on who all Hamilton interviewed, yet he fails to follow through with a single example beyond Kiffin (the obvious).

I wish the best for Coach Kiffin, and I think he'll do a fine job if he can live up to his words in his press conference, and of course, if the UT fan base will give him a fair opportunity. The latter is my greater concern.

Cept Dave Hooker wrote this article, not Adams

7_Game_Maxims writes:

And if he could sneak some of our O-Line guys on to the sideline in pads next to the FL guys he would REALLY see what he's up against. Do you think Hamilton watched all of his Raiders games to see how he managed them?

TennRadioGeek writes:

Hamilton is just hoping to cover his rear. This was a poor choice. Just look at ESPN's talking heads. We are the butt of SEC FOOTBALL Jokes for running off a good coach and hiring a SHULA. The problem was and is Hamilton. FIRE HAMILTON.

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to tquillen#249140:

#1 was a great decision. #2 and #3 -- it remains to be seen.

You have the right idea. Go ahead and speak what you think. Hamilton has done more to bring shame on the Vol nation in a short time than we could ever have guessed. FIRE HAMILTON

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to allVolinGA:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I bet everyone will be watching how this turns out. Fire a 75% winning coach in mid season. Then hire a non-experienced Head Coach that has to bring his Father and brother-in-law with him to do the work.

Wow, I guess you have to really get a head start to pick poorly in football coaches today.

All I say is FIRE HAMILTON.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to luvorange:

We will see you there! Bringing our two oldest sons, have to assure the allegience, growing up in Alabama.

Will be praying for ya.
See yaw there.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to TennRadioGeek:

Hamilton is just hoping to cover his rear. This was a poor choice. Just look at ESPN's talking heads. We are the butt of SEC FOOTBALL Jokes for running off a good coach and hiring a SHULA. The problem was and is Hamilton. FIRE HAMILTON.

That's nothing new for ESPN to slam us. They slammed us with Fulmer, constantly making jokes about his weight when there are several coaches out there that are bigger. It's definitly a risky hire but we're all in now. Hamilton's really given us no reason to doubt his abilities. I, for one, wish I knew more about how Kiffen handles the game. I don't think I've ever watched a Raiders game all the way through while he was the coach.

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to compact2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thats right. He is a KID. Hamilton didn't support Fulmer with for hiring a decent coach to replace Cutcliffe. Lets face it, Hamilton stopped supporting Fulmer 3 years ago. Hamilton is the problem.

Read the real Kiffin. Young, Brash, Got a Big Smart Mouth. I bet he starts trash talking about beating Florida... Oops, my bad. He did that Monday....

Buckle up for a bumpy ride.

FIRE HAMILTON.

volbald writes:

If Lane Kiffin and coaching family are as good as advertized, the Vols may not have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. If UT had enough talent to have a top-10 defense this season, then UT had enough talent to have a decent offense. Kiffin should be able to compete quickly with the best in the SEC. Let's hope he finds a real quaterback ASAP.

orangeblood writes:

You know, i was talking to my dad today about the prospect of packing neyland for the orange and white game....i'm definitely going. I haven't been to one since like 2002. CAN'T WAIT!!!!!

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to 7_Game_Maxims:

That's nothing new for ESPN to slam us. They slammed us with Fulmer, constantly making jokes about his weight when there are several coaches out there that are bigger. It's definitly a risky hire but we're all in now. Hamilton's really given us no reason to doubt his abilities. I, for one, wish I knew more about how Kiffen handles the game. I don't think I've ever watched a Raiders game all the way through while he was the coach.

I agree with you there. ESPN has hated Tennessee for 20 plus years. I agree we can not afford to get Kiffin out. We are stuck.

But Hamilton is a different story. He has hurt us in recruiting for at least 3 years. His little comments and back stabbing are at the root of the melt down. Sure, Hamilton didn't like any coach he did hire. Now he has fired them all.....

His turn is next. We need a true, honest and supportive AD.

FIRE HAMILTON.

deakinbi writes:

in response to iowavol:

Good luck Coach Kiffin, hope you are successful and I hope you are indeed the second coming of Bruce Pearl. There are a lot of people counting on you. I also hope you can stand the two faced lying AD you have as a boss. Do you get the tone from Hamilton that he actually made this decision? We recognized that Mr. Haslam was the second person you thanked on accepting the job. What a waste of air Hamilton is.

I agree. AD is NOT a real leader. More like Al Davis, and we know how that worked out for Coach Kiffin.

Alabama hired a coach 2 years ago who had NFL experience and won a national championship at LSU, and is now ranked #1...

...we hired a coach with 5 wins as a head coach, 0 at the Div. 1 level....

Why would we shoot so low?

Come on...we have to do better...expect more than that...

...why aren't we talking to Pete Carroll about Pete Carroll?..or Bob Stoops...or Steve Spurrier...or Frank Beamer...or Butch Davis...or Tressal (sp?) at OSU?

Colliervol writes:

in response to TennRadioGeek:

Hamilton is just hoping to cover his rear. This was a poor choice. Just look at ESPN's talking heads. We are the butt of SEC FOOTBALL Jokes for running off a good coach and hiring a SHULA. The problem was and is Hamilton. FIRE HAMILTON.

For every one you can find that has said it's a poor choice, I've heard three that say it's a good hire. Especially if he brings the staff that is rumored.

ESPN talking heads? I haven't listened to a thing they've had to say since the Manning Heisman Heist and could care less what they think.

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to volbald:

If Lane Kiffin and coaching family are as good as advertized, the Vols may not have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. If UT had enough talent to have a top-10 defense this season, then UT had enough talent to have a decent offense. Kiffin should be able to compete quickly with the best in the SEC. Let's hope he finds a real quaterback ASAP.

I hope it won't take 40 years but we are tied in for at least 4 years. That is what Shula got at Bama wasn't it. Good football genes get you. 4 years.

On the other hand, if Hamilton supports Kiffin as he has his other coaches, he will fail even sooner.

Problem is still Hamilton. FIRE HAMILTON

KCHS63 writes:

As for naming unborn Mr. Kiffin: His mother may want him named after his famous quarterback father or the program he came from. Not sure I like Pell Reaves Kiffin or Spurrier Zook Kiffin, though. Yuck.

One thing for sure, he'll have a very heavyweight football legacy.

KCHS63 writes:

Sorry, that's GRANDfather John Reaves.

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to Colliervol:

For every one you can find that has said it's a poor choice, I've heard three that say it's a good hire. Especially if he brings the staff that is rumored.

ESPN talking heads? I haven't listened to a thing they've had to say since the Manning Heisman Heist and could care less what they think.

Are we that desperate? I don't think that anyone knows what this young kid will be able to do. That's the point. A good hire should not be based on what FAMILY members he hires as staff.

That would be like buying a junk car that you don't know will run because it has pretty tires....

The main thing in getting a good head coach is, well being a HEAD COACH.

Weak link is Hamilton.
FIRE HAMILTON.

west_tn_volfan writes:

in response to TennRadioGeek:

Thats right. He is a KID. Hamilton didn't support Fulmer with for hiring a decent coach to replace Cutcliffe. Lets face it, Hamilton stopped supporting Fulmer 3 years ago. Hamilton is the problem.

Read the real Kiffin. Young, Brash, Got a Big Smart Mouth. I bet he starts trash talking about beating Florida... Oops, my bad. He did that Monday....

Buckle up for a bumpy ride.

FIRE HAMILTON.

If your going to keep crying, do it in private. It's very unbecoming of you to whine in public. Kiffin wasn't my first choice but so what. He's our coach and I'm ready for him to put a beatin' on florida and bama.

west_tn_volfan writes:

I knew there had to be an underlying reason. Thanks for shedding some light.

vailvol writes:

i will be at the OW game. never been before even while at school at UT. can't wait until that first game when the new vols run through the T!!!!

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to compact2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I didn't attack you. Shame.

IF kiffin did that he would be a 60% coach. I don't think YOU would be happy with that.

But my comment was NOT against the inexperienced KID. It was against Hamiltong who hired him. You miss the point. Boob You.

FIRE HAMILTON

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to compact2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I surely am not qualified to Head coach a 1A team. I have never done that..... That would be stupid.

Know anyone that has? Kiffin?

FIRE HAMILTON.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Kiffin is the first coach hired in the post Fulmer era. My guess is that there will be at least 2 or 3 more over the next few years. Hope I'm wrong, but history says I'm not.

TennRadioGeek writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't have any choice in pulling for the team. There was never any doubt of that. Funny on the fat Phil joke. I live and Alabama and have to put up with the 650 national titles that Bama has every day from the name sake of Big AL in my team.

I just don't think a well planned and thoughful selection process of finding a new coach was done by HAMILTON. He is a problem. I loved it when Bama went thru coach after coach and of couse SHULA. But didn't we all! They cured their problem. We are doing, well...did we find experience in a HC. NO. That was Hamilton's job. He failed the grade. I am sure he is putting lipstick on the deal but the bottom line is the same. Hamilton let us down.

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