Adams: Rocky top? Kiffin making move

An SEC source told me Tuesday afternoon that "Lane Kiffin was moving up the leader board." I appreciated his golfing analogy almost as much as his opinion.

You could extend the analogy by comparing a daily round in a four-day tournament to a week in Tennessee's search for a football coach to replace Phillip Fulmer. Each week, like each round, could give you a different leader.

There's no doubt North Carolina coach Butch Davis was the first-round leader. The same source who informed me of Kiffin's recent ascent told me in mid-October that UT was going after Davis.

Never mind how happy Davis says he is at North Carolina. I don't believe UT would have made him a priority without some encouragement on his end.

A News Sentinel interview with a recruit Monday night is more revealing than anything Davis has said. Running back David Oku, who has committed to UT, told a News Sentinel reporter via text message that Davis was trying to recruit him to North Carolina.

Taking a recruit at his word is only slightly less risky than taking a football coach at his word. And a source said he expects UT will make "another run at Davis." But there's less and less evidence to justify putting him atop the leader board.

At anytime during the last two weeks, you might have seen Texas Tech coach Mike Leach's name or Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly's at the top. This week's leader is Kiffin.

Does that mean he will be the next head coach? No. But he's looking like the favorite.

Another source, who knows Leach, said Monday that he thought it was between Leach and Kiffin going into last weekend. And he thought Leach was hurt by Texas Tech's embarrassing loss to Oklahoma.

The same source told me that Kelly was nothing but a "smokescreen," which begs the question: Why do you need a smokescreen? This is a coaching search, not a sting operation.

Someone else brought up the name of Oregon State coach Mike Riley in conjunction with Leach. His theory: Leach was UT's No. 1 choice; if it couldn't get Leach, it would take Riley.

Riley has a strong, diverse resume. He has been a head coach in the NFL, the CFL, and the dearly departed World League of Professional Football. He has been an offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator. And twice in the last three years, he has sabotaged Southern California's national championship ventures with upset victories.

However, Riley is known as a "West Coast guy," and his wife has an even stronger preference for living on Pacific Standard Time. Their affinity for the Far West was the biggest factor in Riley's decision to turn down the head-coaching job at Alabama, his alma mater. If Alabama couldn't get him, how could UT?

I'm not sure about Kiffin's geographical preference. I am sure he would prefer coaching somewhere, rather than nowhere. Having been fired as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, he could be the fastest guy on the job.

He has more going for him than that.

Kiffin has head-coaching experience in the NFL, an NFL defensive guru (Monte Kiffin) for a father, and a reputation as a national recruiter - based on his work at USC under Pete Carroll.

If Kiffin is your candidate, you probably have a package deal in mind. If the kid couldn't convince his dad to leave the Tampa Bay Bucs to assist his son, maybe he could at least talk former USC recruiting sidekick, Ed Orgeron, into making a college comeback. Orgeron, whose fanatical recruiting was detailed in the book, "Meat Market," took an assistant coaching job with the New Orleans Saints after being fired as Ole Miss' coach.

Like Leach, who has an off-the-wall personality and an off-the-charts offense, Kiffin isn't a conventional candidate. He's only 33. He has never been a college head coach.

But how do you expect to overtake Urban Meyer at Florida and Nick Saban at Alabama with a conventional coach?

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2008, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2008 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 268

smashmouth98 writes:

who will it be only time will tell. I just hope we're not in the toilet for the next 10 years!!!!!!!!!!!

I do hope it is Kiffen so he can get after the RECRUITING and put us on the map AGAIN!

hotrodvol writes:

Say what, Are you trying to get in on the fun Adams?

AllVol2008#1353998 writes:

Kiffin and his dad or Orgeron might just work.

King53 writes:

bring him on! I also heard that his father wanted to coach with his son and that Orgeron would also come with him. wow, that would be quiet an impressive staff.

GoVols133 writes:

whatever, just get somebody in here.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Kiffin = Obama

Both have accomplished zip to be named head coach or president.

Lets not make the same mistake twice!!

whistlinwingman writes:

I believe it's a done deal. December 1st Lane Kiffin will be announced as UT's next head coach.

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

An inside source has indicated to me that I, in fact, will be named the new head coach on Monday. I am quite shocked at the news but have decided to name Chuck Webb Offensive Coordinator and Ozzy Osbourne Defensive Coordinator.

smokyredbone writes:

Bring him on,he will assemble enough experience around him to make the SEC fear the Orange again! Also, between him and the ogre they will rescue our recruiting class and possibly add to it!!!!

givehim6 writes:

Rumors,rumors. Got to love them. I'm going to try and hang on tight till late december.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to whistlinwingman:

I believe it's a done deal. December 1st Lane Kiffin will be announced as UT's next head coach.

Take it to the bank and cash it.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to sweeten_159#646196:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Believe you may be right.

Might stun us with Paul Johnson from GT. No one but Hammmy, Haslam and search crew know for sure.

Maybe Dupree.

hotrodvol writes:

He has got one thing going for him that no other coach has, and that is, he has not been losing. So he is not hurting his stock.

ORANGEAVENGER88 writes:

I would rather have him than Brian Kelly, he just doesnt do it for me, he's too big a risk. At least Kiffin has NFL experience vs. Div II and Central Michigan experience. Would still rather Butch Davis though.

gohawks1 writes:

I don't know.... I'm just not hearing a name that gets me fired up yet.

UTME06 writes:

Really, if you look at Kiffin's bio, he just doesn't have the experience to make him a lock as a competent coach... could be, but hasn't proven it.

If this is the hire, I believe its a budget issue. We have one buyout already. It would be tough to buy out the next coach from his current school.

Dam economy.

tnbigg writes:

It's a done deal...

hotrodvol writes:

in response to gohawks1:

I don't know.... I'm just not hearing a name that gets me fired up yet.

I wasn't to excited either at first, but the more I think about what he could bring, his age, recruiting, the asst. coaches. He has a lot going for him.

andy112382#209793 writes:

Interesting quote from Mike Shanahan after Kiffin was fired pointed out that he (Shanahan) only won 3 more games than Kiffin did coaching the Raiders (both were fired)....and another about Warren Sapp pointing out Al Davis would call down to the sidelines to call a play. That 5-15 record of Kiffins is not something to go on.

The players loved him and after browsing around online to find articles from when he was fired with feedback from Raider fans, a large percentage of them think of him as a good coach who had gotten a winning attitude in place there. Don't forget his only full season there, Al Davis shipped Randy Moss off and he was working with a brand new QB.

The thing I would be most excited about is his recruiting. Great recruiting ties nationwide and he was recruiting coordinator of the team that got guys like Patrick Turner in Nashville away from us - maybe he can keep guys like Marlon Brown at home! Bottom line is, the way our offense has been this season (what little we've had) there isn't too many more ways to go than up!!! Oh, and as far as DC, either bring Monte or keep Chavis, though, Orgeron is a great defensive coach, just a horrible game manager as a head coach, superb recruiter. Some guys just have a ceiling they shouldn't go past, Orgeron, DC was his forte, Randy Sanders was a great position coach but very shaky OC at best, just the way it is but it shouldn't take away from what made them a household name to begin with.

GO VOLS!!!

volunteer_cowboy writes:

MISTAKE!!!!

andy112382#209793 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Kiffin = Obama

Both have accomplished zip to be named head coach or president.

Lets not make the same mistake twice!!

Don't insult our potential new coach with such lows.... Kiffin isn't getting all of the other candidates knocked off the 'ballott' to win the job like a certain Obama did in the past.

bd330794#206783 writes:

I could get excited about Coach O being at UT....

YAhyahyahyahyah yahhhhh yah Footbaw

hotrodvol writes:

Hey Andy maybe Sanders would come back as a WR or QB coach, a pretty good fit I would say. That is if he could swallow his pride.

zqvol writes:

If Adams says it you can know that it is not true. We are in for 5 - 7 years of garbage teams.

Fire Adams and Fire Hamilton

UTME06 writes:

I can't believe that Petersen hasn't even seen the leader board yet. He's a beast... get that man in Orange, please.

blitzshoot writes:

Got to think its Kiffen, but like PD said, we may not no for sure until the flag is sent up the pole. I think we will know Monday. May have some leaks Sunday.

DennisVols writes:

Chris Low: I've thought since Tennessee fired Phillip Fulmer that Lane Kiffin was at or near the top of Tennessee's list. I still believe that, although it would be premature to call it a done deal. Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton and his search party are still out talking to people. In fact, they're on the road today. What I know to be fact is that Kiffin has already started talking to people about coming with him to Tennessee. One of those people is former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron, now an assistant with the New Orleans Saints. Orgeron was a recruiting whiz at Ole Miss, and he worked with Kiffin on the Southern California staff earlier this decade. I could see Orgeron coming as either a defensive coordinator, associate head coach and/or recruiting coordinator. I think the Vols will have their coach named by the middle of December. The other names to keep an eye on are Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, Texas Tech's Mike Leach and Air Force's Troy Calhoun. I think the Vols have also talked with Minnesota's Tim Brewster. But I've thought from the beginning that the final decision would come down to Kelly or Kiffin.

scott92699#212441 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Kiffin = Obama

Both have accomplished zip to be named head coach or president.

Lets not make the same mistake twice!!

AMEN!!

shipperman#280095 writes:

WELCOME COACH KIFFIN.

Southpaw_Vol writes:

When the next coach is hired and it isnt Kiffin, then all of these "its a done deal" idiots should be banned for life from posting. I'm tired of all this "inside source" bs. You must be using the same "inside source" George Bush is using to catch Obama. Oops, I mean Osama.

andy112382#209793 writes:

in response to UTME06:

I can't believe that Petersen hasn't even seen the leader board yet. He's a beast... get that man in Orange, please.

I was real high on him before, even back in 2005 during that disaster, but I really wonder how he would fit in the SEC, especially recruiting.

It would help if we had more than just that Oklahoma game to go on for 'big games' - they rarely play power teams and when they start sluggish against teams like Idaho, that doesn't boost my confidence.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to Southpaw_Vol:

When the next coach is hired and it isnt Kiffin, then all of these "its a done deal" idiots should be banned for life from posting. I'm tired of all this "inside source" bs. You must be using the same "inside source" George Bush is using to catch Obama. Oops, I mean Osama.

That works both ways my friend. Ready to eat some crow?

volcop writes:

They also said Kiffin might go after Trooper and try to get him back, he will probably be hungry to prove himself again after the Raider deal and prove what a "nut" Davis is!

utchris writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

DennisVols writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are correct sir.
AD's do not hire HC for a major university. The President does and he is controled by the major donors such as Haslam and Thorton. It wasn't Hamilton that decided to fire Fuler either. It was Haslam and Thorton who pushed the button.
It doesn't really matter what we think who would be best. You can bet that both of those two will interview any one being considered, be it on the golf course or somewhere else. Clawson was Hamilton's choice for OC not Fulmer's. Thorton let that out of the hat a couple weeks back.
This decision will not be left up to what people like Haslam and Thorton consider to be middle mgt.

SemperVol writes:

in response to utchris:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow. Speechless.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to DennisVols:

You are correct sir.
AD's do not hire HC for a major university. The President does and he is controled by the major donors such as Haslam and Thorton. It wasn't Hamilton that decided to fire Fuler either. It was Haslam and Thorton who pushed the button.
It doesn't really matter what we think who would be best. You can bet that both of those two will interview any one being considered, be it on the golf course or somewhere else. Clawson was Hamilton's choice for OC not Fulmer's. Thorton let that out of the hat a couple weeks back.
This decision will not be left up to what people like Haslam and Thorton consider to be middle mgt.

You are partially wrong there. Thornton is a major Fulmer supporter.

UTME06 writes:

in response to andy112382#209793:

I was real high on him before, even back in 2005 during that disaster, but I really wonder how he would fit in the SEC, especially recruiting.

It would help if we had more than just that Oklahoma game to go on for 'big games' - they rarely play power teams and when they start sluggish against teams like Idaho, that doesn't boost my confidence.

I agree he has some question marks... but he has proven he is capable of success... he does pose risk since he has not seen great talent week after week.

Kiffin, on the other hand, has no head coaching success, and a moderate length span as a component of a successful operation, that has continued to be successful without him. Don't get me wrong, he has great upside potential... but I'm one to take the upside and risk the downside rather than the other way around.

If we are going to have a couple 3(years) and out coaches, let's swing for the fences.

caskew#218608 writes:

Probably why Kiffin didn't succeed as coach of the Raiders: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2...

Jamey1210 writes:

So if this is the case..... who would he bring in as his offensive coordinator? I don't really see his father coming here considering he is making a cool Million a year in the NFL. Sorry UT fans we ain't paying that to a DC. Coach O will come in on the Defensive side and I am sure he will bring in some great NFL talent recomended by his father. I can't imagine a 70 year old traveling the country recruiting. I don't know that is just me maybe. I do see that he will put Coach 0 as the RC. Just think if this did happen we could be the next USC recruiting all the 5 stars. Just an opinion but he is the best guy to bring in big talent, unless Bill Cowher or Gruden is coming but we all know that is not the case. I think he will get the talent here and surround him self with the best talent money can buy, which hamilton will save by hiring him. The more I think about this the more I think it is a good move. Pay a young great recruiting coach(who kids will like) less and pay the role coaches more. Surround him with talent developers so in average persons eye he is a genious wether or not he is does not matter as long as we win. RIGHT?

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

Actually all these names are smokescreens; when all the coaches turn us down, Phil Fulmer will be renamed the head coach and given another year to turn it around (can't reveal my source).

wyomingvol writes:

Burt Reynolds... Head Coach...

DennisVols writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

You are partially wrong there. Thornton is a major Fulmer supporter.

The term is 'was". Thorton and Fulmer are close but you do not get to a point in life where you can donate millions each year to a university by putting friendship in front of your business decisions.
UT is an investment to both Thorton and Haslem and if the business starts to lose money then tough decisions have to be made even if the manager is a friend.

caskew#218608 writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

You are partially wrong there. Thornton is a major Fulmer supporter.

Yes, he is....They actually took a family vacation to Hawaii together this past summer....

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to DennisVols:

The term is 'was". Thorton and Fulmer are close but you do not get to a point in life where you can donate millions each year to a university by putting friendship in front of your business decisions.
UT is an investment to both Thorton and Haslem and if the business starts to lose money then tough decisions have to be made even if the manager is a friend.

Thornton is nowhere close to the contributor that Haslem is. Not even close. And Thornton was the one who forced Hamilton into giving the rediculous raise and extension last year

blitzshoot writes:

in response to smokey65:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Doesn't say much about for
Volunteer Football then.

southernson writes:

Its not a sexy as Leach or Kelly. But it may be a better fit. If he brings his daddy and orgeron. The smoke has been Davis and Kelly. This may be a done deal.

MarbleVol48 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Kiffin = Obama

Both have accomplished zip to be named head coach or president.

Lets not make the same mistake twice!!

Boy are you wrong! This would be a great hire.

2 best recruit classes in USC history.
Top QB coach.
NFL Experience. No More small DF Linemen!
Best (Father) Defensive Coach in the country.
Will out recruit all, all out of stste coaches west of the Mississippi River..
Wow! Hurry up and give him a 5 yr. shot

hotrodvol writes:

Thorton, Shuler, Fulmer = Land development, it will be coming soon to a lake near you.

bmaples writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Kiffin = Obama

Both have accomplished zip to be named head coach or president.

Lets not make the same mistake twice!!

And if you're going to play that game:

eb502us = Palin

Both should know better than to open their mouths.

Let's not listen to either one!

=====

Look, I come here to talk sports, not politics. I try to keep my progressive views out of here; you try to keep your right-wing views out too, and we can all focus on cheering on the Vols.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features