If Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton hires unemployed 33-year-old Lane Kiffin as the Vols' next football coach, he's basically sending the following message to Tennessee fans:
"I'm cheap and I'm easy."
Cheap because Kiffin, fired by the NFL's Raiders earlier this season as their head coach, has no buyout. Easy because Hamilton doesn't have to sweat during the Christmas holidays about making a hire to replace the departing Phillip Fulmer.
I've seen this head coach search before, circa Ole Miss in December 2004, when the Rebels were sweet-talked the week before Christmas into hiring the disaster known as Ed Orgeron.
We know how that horror movie turned out, don't we? Three seasons of players being verbally abused, a third of Coach Ohmygawd recruiting classes quitting or becoming ineligible, and the rest of the SEC wondering what the Ole Miss administration was smoking the day they hired Coach 0-for-the-SEC.
Of course, Hamilton is denying he's offered Kiffin the job, though sources close to the situation are leaking more information than grounded oil tankers gush bubbling crude.
There are a few reasons why Kiffin isn't the right hire, and they are more than enough for Hamilton to look elsewhere.
Kiffin has never accomplished anything as a head coach. All his rep comes from his time as Southern Cal's supposed offensive coordinator in 2005 and 2006, but USC didn't win the national titles in those years as it did the previous two seasons.
Also, play-calling was shared with quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian, with USC head coach Pete Carroll having veto power.
So just how brilliant is the boy wonder Kiffin? Consider that the University of Washington, a Pac-10 school, has an opening, and they haven't even given Kiffin, someone who knows the league, a sniff.
You know the rest of the SEC is hoping Tennessee hires a 33-year-old, who just happens to be just a year older than former Vols quarterback Peyton Manning (Hey, can we get Peytie Pie to be the next coach?).
Sticking Kiffin in the SEC's all-star lineup of coaches that includes four coaches who have won national championships (Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Les Miles, Urban Meyer) and another with an unbeaten season (Auburn's Tommy Tuberville) would be like tossing a goldfish into a pool of piranhas.
Hamilton's hiring Kiffin would be an admission that Tennessee is a second-rate program, not on par with Alabama and Florida, the SEC's powers du jour.
When Alabama was shopping for a coach after firing Mike Shula (in some respects a Kiffin clone), Alabama athletic director Mal Moore knew his job was on the line if he didn't sign Saban. Moore, with an open checkbook, knew he couldn't come home to Tuscaloosa if Saban, then the Dolphins' coach, wasn't on the plane with him from Miami.
When Florida was seeking a coach after firing overmatched Ron Zook, Florida outbid mighty Notre Dame for Urban Meyer, coach of the unbeaten University of Utah.
So if I'm Hamilton, I'd make either Texas Tech's Mike Leach or North Carolina's Butch Davis write in blood that they wouldn't want to coach Tennessee before giving up on them.
They are the type of innovative and proven coaches Tennessee deserves, not a 33-year-old who supposedly wants to hire (are you ready?) old USC staff coaching pal Orgeron.
Thirty-three years old? Phillip Fulmer probably has jockey shorts that age.