Adams: Hamilton swings big with Kiffin

Mike Hamilton hit a home run when he hired basketball coach Bruce Pearl. So is it any surprise that Tennessee's athletic director is swinging for the fences again?

Hiring Lane Kiffin as UT's next football coach is a button-popping, tendon-tearing, Jose Canseco-size swing. And it creates a Neyland Stadium-size crowd of second-guessers.

Kiffin has never been a college head coach. He's 33 years old.

He's young enough to be Butch Davis' son.

Davis, presumably the first target of UT's coaching search, could match resumes with just about any reasonable candidate. He has made a quick turnaround at North Carolina, was a head coach in the NFL, built a national championship program at the University of Miami and has firmly established himself as a recruiting heavyweight.

He was the safest choice Hamilton could have made. But when his lack of interest forced UT to look elsewhere, there wasn't a fail-safe candidate.

Cincinnati's Brian Kelly might have been the next-safest choice - if he was interested, and there's no guarantee he was. However, a Big East championship doesn't mean you're ready to take on the SEC.

Texas Tech's Mike Leach wasn't as safe as Kelly, but he was much more intriguing, because of his spectacular, innovative offense.

Could his offense work in the SEC?

Answer: It would work significantly better than anything UT is doing now.

My biggest concern about Leach would be in regard to recruiting, not offense.

Nonetheless, Leach would have been an upgrade over what UT has now. Kelly would have been, too.

In fact, I'm convinced you wouldn't be any worse offensively if you hired your coordinator from the primates section of the San Diego Zoo. A trained chimp could get you one touchdown against Wyoming.

I also believe Hamilton could have hired a number of coaches who could improve a program that is 4-7 this season and has lost 21 games in the last four years. But the choice of Kiffin indicates Hamilton is thinking bigger.

He's not just trying to hire a guy who can win seven, eight or nine games and go to a second-tier bowl. He's trying to win a championship, not make the top 25.

Do you really think Hamilton could have hired a coach whose credentials would match those of Florida's Urban Meyer or Alabama's Nick Saban?

They're arguably the two best coaches in college football. And UT has to face them both every season.

You're not going to beat them with average or pretty good coaches. You might not even come close, as evidenced by UT's misadventures against Alabama and Florida the last two years.

So why not take a chance on a young coach with an upside?

Kiffin has been an offensive coordinator at Southern California and a head coach with the Oakland Raiders. He has seen college football at its best under Pete Carroll at USC, and the NFL at its craziest under Raiders owner Al Davis. He also has grown up in the same house with one of the NFL's most renowned defensive coordinators, Monte Kiffin.

He has coached NFL players. He has been exposed to one of the best programs in college football. He should be able to judge talent.

So should the guy who hired Bruce Pearl.

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

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Comments » 99

tnbigg writes:

Could be a homerun. You got it in ya' to write that other thing...

CT_VOL writes:

Thanks goodness Pearl and the boys are getting it done. This will go a long way in offsetting the football team's long-term decline, especially with this new cupcake at the wheel!

Frank

CoachNeyland writes:

Adams: "So why not take a chance on a young coach with an upside?"
Me: You mean like Clawson?

TommyJack writes:

in response to tnbigg:

Could be a homerun. You got it in ya' to write that other thing...

What other thang, Biggie?

eduardo writes:

A home run? Try a colossal strike out! Why the hadies to you hire a guy who has never been a head coach? This is a mistake! Hamilton step down now and let someone else hire a quality football coach. Home run, lol!

brody1969 writes:

wheres that idiot higgins now

khelton657 writes:

Man, Adams comes out swinging, I like it..no need to be puzzies over this situation..when it comes to sheep vs wolves, the wolvs *always" win..let's hope Kiffin is a bigger Wolf than Meyer or Saban

bcbobcat82 writes:

Just be a fan and shut your mouth or GO and be a Florida fan!! Why does everyone have to gripe about everything? You same smart people would be on here griping about anyone Hamilton hired. And you were the ones griping about Fulmer as well. JUST BE A FAN AND SHUTUP!
GO VOLS!

eduardo writes:

in response to bcbobcat82:

Just be a fan and shut your mouth or GO and be a Florida fan!! Why does everyone have to gripe about everything? You same smart people would be on here griping about anyone Hamilton hired. And you were the ones griping about Fulmer as well. JUST BE A FAN AND SHUTUP!
GO VOLS!

stick it lame brain lane!

DennisVols writes:

"Only those who are not afraid of lossing, will ever have a chance at winning"
Some will say this is a big risk for Hamilton. I say it is as big a risk for Kiffen. Young coach with a bright future many experts have said. If he fails here his career takes a major hit.
We will see over the next few weeks what kind of staff Kiffen assembles here. Some pretty big names are being thrown out there and if they become part of the program then both Hamilton and Kiffen look really good.
Richt was a big risk at GA, many questioned if Meyer's offense could work in the SEC with faster defenses. The one thing both coaches did to become successful was to put together a staff that made their program successful.
There was great risk involved in whoever Hamilton chose. Not everyone was going to be happy. Opinions on here alone had at least 6 choices as to who was going to be best and you could find something wrong with each and every one of them.
Give Kiffen the same opportunity you expected to be extended to you the last time you reached a new level in your career.

mlewishome#366649 writes:

personally, i think it's chicken**** to take potshots at the outgoing coaches. they're already fired, do we really need to pile on at this point?

primates? very classy john.

sfrye#268517 writes:

If Lane Kiffin is anything like what we have in Bruce Pearl, I'll take it. It is going to be a long turnaround with the erosion of the talent base. UT fans need to be patient and give him a chance. If he can endure that madness that is Al Davis' world, he can surely handle some of the fools that swirl around Knoxville. Welcome aboard Coach. Go Vols.

volmaniac writes:

For all your negative complainers--same message as on November 4th. Your guy didn't win, get over it!

proudveteran writes:

Who even brothers to see what the opinion is of Adams? Who cares what he thinks? Adams would make a nice picture frame on the wall with a commode seat for a frame! Nice fit for another "A-hole".

AllVol2008#1353998 writes:

I am now a John Adams fan (I never figured out what he ever said that was so wrong). This is one of the most intelligent things I have ever read in my life. Excellent artice, and flawlessly reasoned. Thank you, Mr. Adams.

calvolfromkingsport writes:

All my USC friends say this is a homerun! Good luck LK. Tnbigg, did you hear about the shooting in Palm Desert at the toys r us. This is only a short distance from your friends facility. Amazing. Stop the insanity.

cltvol writes:

The primate comment is low rent, below the belt, unworthy of print. I can't believe Adams said that. Tabloid city.

The guy that got Bruce Pearl here was Ernie Grunfeld. Hammy tripped over that one.

I hope Kiffin does great. I hope Adams classes up.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

"answer. It would work significally better than anything UT is doing now"

Nuff said.

teedub writes:

in response to eduardo:

A home run? Try a colossal strike out! Why the hadies to you hire a guy who has never been a head coach? This is a mistake! Hamilton step down now and let someone else hire a quality football coach. Home run, lol!

Guess what, Eduardo?? The General, Doug Dickey, and Fulmer had never been head coaches, either. Think we should have passed on them?

Bufforange00 writes:

Chimp comment classic, brutal, maybe not classy, but soooo right. I have heard enough BS from Fulmers coaching staff to last a lifetime. Urban Meyer made his offense work the first year, why not Dave Clawson? Our players are not any dumber than Florida's. We have had great recruiting classes (except '07--which is mostly too young to contribute yet). Bottom line-Clawson was a bad hire, and it cost Fulmer his job.

BillVol writes:

"Don't mess with people who buy ink by the barrel." Adams gets his final tackle on Fulmer. Sure you don't want to take questions from someone other than Bryan Mullen and Drew Edwards, Coach Fulmer?

The_Mayor writes:

Adams lost my interest in this editorial with the Canseco analogy. "Button-popping, tendon-tearing"??? No thanks. Jose didn't exactly take the high road to EARN that body type. But, that's the integrity level Adams continues to display.

12packvolfan writes:

great article adams come on lane kiffin u r the man

COVolsFan writes:

As I said on another article, I'd take a Tennessee man any day over what we have coming and what we'll have coming in the future.

inthefort writes:

in response to CoachNeyland:

Adams: "So why not take a chance on a young coach with an upside?"
Me: You mean like Clawson?

Ultimately, Hammy didn't hire clawson...

tenuscvol writes:

in response to cltvol:

The primate comment is low rent, below the belt, unworthy of print. I can't believe Adams said that. Tabloid city.

The guy that got Bruce Pearl here was Ernie Grunfeld. Hammy tripped over that one.

I hope Kiffin does great. I hope Adams classes up.

I agree the message could have been communicated without that slap...Adams can write some decent stuff at times but he obviously has a certain "jerk" quantity that comes out on occassion.

Kiffen...we'll see as time will tell but hope for the best...

Go Tigers!

GoVols!

VolinCalif writes:

You know fans. you can't put much on Lane getting axed by Al. He axed Mike S as you remember. It appears the better coach you are the less Big Al likes you and the more he interferes. Mike S proved his point back at Denver. Lane may well prove his at UT. A HC may coach the O or the D but his duty is to get the correct Assist's Lanes has seen that for a number of years. Let's see where it go's

newtonrail writes:

in response to mlewishome#366649:

personally, i think it's chicken**** to take potshots at the outgoing coaches. they're already fired, do we really need to pile on at this point?

primates? very classy john.

Especially since Hamilton lying, and firing Fulmer before the end of season, caused a team meltdown. Adams do you really think as bad as our offense is, if we beat Vandy, we couldn't beat Wyoming if announcement hadn't come that week? Two defensive TDs? Come on Adams, Fulmer needed to go, but don't propagate a lie. And I agree with Mark May, we'll probably be back here in 3 years hiring another coach. Hope I'm wrong. It would be interesting if some of my fellow bloggers could post without violating the KNS policy, or skirting it with deft key strokes to get in their curse words. I had to pass English classes to get my degree from Tennessee. Try to get you point across the old fashioned way by well thought out arguments.

volball7222 writes:

The chimp comment was typical of Adams...journalism has no standards anymore. He will probably win a freaking Pulitzer for it. Now what are you going to write about?
I personally feel it is time for a change and Adams needs to be gone. You could hire a retired english teacher..unlike Adams they could probably put several words togeather to make a complete sentence.

blitzshoot writes:

Coach kiffen, can you get these players to show up for pratice and PLEASE take the offensive line and shove them down a pine rail to Georgia. Work'em Kiffen!

thesavageorange writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yep!

cb4vols#206343 writes:

I still think Petersen would have been a better hire if he was at all interested in the job. Having said that... Good luck, Mr. Kiffin

thesavageorange writes:

Also throw in the names Joe Pa, and Eddie Robinson.

bobbarbilly writes:

Ditto what mlewishome said. This is a half-class article. Leave them go in peace.

govols10 writes:

Great article. I agree 100%. The Big Orange Nation will fill up Neyland at the Orange and White Game. I will be there.

murrayvol writes:

in response to khelton657:

Man, Adams comes out swinging, I like it..no need to be puzzies over this situation..when it comes to sheep vs wolves, the wolvs *always" win..let's hope Kiffin is a bigger Wolf than Meyer or Saban

Don't think Meyer will be an issue too much longer. At least not in the SEC. But I'm sure UF will hire a competent replacement.

tngilmer writes:

in response to DennisVols:

"Only those who are not afraid of lossing, will ever have a chance at winning"
Some will say this is a big risk for Hamilton. I say it is as big a risk for Kiffen. Young coach with a bright future many experts have said. If he fails here his career takes a major hit.
We will see over the next few weeks what kind of staff Kiffen assembles here. Some pretty big names are being thrown out there and if they become part of the program then both Hamilton and Kiffen look really good.
Richt was a big risk at GA, many questioned if Meyer's offense could work in the SEC with faster defenses. The one thing both coaches did to become successful was to put together a staff that made their program successful.
There was great risk involved in whoever Hamilton chose. Not everyone was going to be happy. Opinions on here alone had at least 6 choices as to who was going to be best and you could find something wrong with each and every one of them.
Give Kiffen the same opportunity you expected to be extended to you the last time you reached a new level in your career.

I agree. Time will tell all on this hire. We will just have to wait and see.

1manningfan writes:

Welcome Coach K. to BIG ORANGE NATION!!!

hey guys i live in Tampa,FL and i have been watching BUC ball since i moved here in 2000 and let me tell you Monte Kiffin is the most respected coach on the Bucs, even over Jon Gruden. Monte and the Bucs defense are a top 10 D year in and year out, always consistent. Bucs defense runs the cover 2, and if you didnt know Monte's cover 2 has been so succesful in the NFL that they call it Tampa 2 now nation wide alot of times,because Monte has perfected it.

If we can snag him up than we will not only have a young and energetic coach but a father type figure in Monte. The players respect and love Monte like a Dad down here in Buc land.

As for recruiting were going to be in great shape nation wide. The thing that intrigues me is if we do get Monte than we will be able to go into Florida and get Defensive players bc all these kids know Monte and most people in Fl are Bucs fan so the recruits will be very aware of the coaching they will get out of Monte from a Defensive standpoint.

Fans here are very worried already if Monte leaves bc they know he cannot be replaced for anything better!

lildevils7 writes:

in response to bcbobcat82:

Just be a fan and shut your mouth or GO and be a Florida fan!! Why does everyone have to gripe about everything? You same smart people would be on here griping about anyone Hamilton hired. And you were the ones griping about Fulmer as well. JUST BE A FAN AND SHUTUP!
GO VOLS!

Thank you, will all you haters of the program please move to B.F.E. we are tired of all your B.S.

thevoice writes:

Welcome Coach K!! Many are behind you. Some are poking at you cowardly behind a computer. Likely because they aren't significantly happy with their own lives. Wonder how many Kiffen-haters will be at the Orange and White game, anticipating and expecting something new? If you're not optimistic, find another team and leave GVX. Gottcha.

Caspian writes:

in response to volmaniac:

For all your negative complainers--same message as on November 4th. Your guy didn't win, get over it!

Tell that to all the Sore Loserman types from 2000 still suffering from BDS.

FWBVol writes:

I have been, am, and, if he continues coaching, will be a fan of Phillip Fulmer. I also had hoped he would be given another year, but since that didn't happen, I support my alma mater as I am a Tennessee man through and through.

I like this hire if nothing else for the potential of things Lane Kiffin might, and I hope he is able to accomplish as the Vols coach.

Having followed Tennessee and college football longer than Lane Kiffin has been alive, I know there are no guarantees that he'll succeed, but I like his chance. Experience in another conference might be some sort of indication how this coach or that coach might do in the SEC, but sometimes previous success doesn't follow into the SEC.

Looking at the Notre Dame situation, it seemed that Charlie Weis had all the right credentials to be successful in South Bend, but he has learned that coaching Tom Brady and Jimmy Clausen are two different things. I believe Lane Kiffin's experience coaching college quarterbacks coupled with whoever he brings in as his offensive coordinator will be a great boost over our current situation.

Good Luck and many championships Lane.

DekanGator writes:

Congrats Vol fans on your new hire.
Should be fun, but remember It may take some time,A year or two, and being in the SEC east could be tough, I was not to sure about the hire at first, but looking it over good choice,
by the way, Who are Vol fans for Florida or Bama?

thesavageorange writes:

DekanGator ,

Gators!Bama fans are the most delusional fans alive.They would sacrifice their mother for a winning season.I have a fed ex guy, Alabama fan, tell me the other day that they have the top 8 players of the 09' class are commited to UA.Hmmm, 5 of those are probably from Florida.Yeah, UM will let thim walk.

SouthALVol writes:

in response to DekanGator:

Congrats Vol fans on your new hire.
Should be fun, but remember It may take some time,A year or two, and being in the SEC east could be tough, I was not to sure about the hire at first, but looking it over good choice,
by the way, Who are Vol fans for Florida or Bama?

As a fan of the SEC, I certainly want one of the two in the title game. I am afraid, though, if the Gators and Bama win out and the Gators beat Bama the BCS powers that be (read: ABC) will try to get a Texas-OU rematch (assuming OU wins against OSU and either of the two beats Missouri). In that scenario the Gators get screwed. I'm sure the ABC conferences are getting tired of SEC teams whipping them in the big games.

thesavageorange writes:

By the way I knew that wasn't the truth but I let him rattle of anyway.You can't argue w/ them they have "sourses" and are all nephews of the "Bear".

thesavageorange writes:

Sources.Sorry.

thesavageorange writes:

And often.I hate to admit it but IMO UF is the head of the class.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to proudveteran:

Who even brothers to see what the opinion is of Adams? Who cares what he thinks? Adams would make a nice picture frame on the wall with a commode seat for a frame! Nice fit for another "A-hole".

Best post i've seen in a while, this guy makes me laugh!!! Thanks!!! Give me a high 5 I say@@ Great!! very Adamsesque!!

trace5254 writes:

Hiring Kiffin is an act of desperation - - this is the second coming of Mike Shula. Here's why...

1) He is completely unproven
2) He does not understand Southern football
3) He is really a pro coach and will be back in the NFL if he has one good season

As a Bama guy this is going to be fun to watch!! A little patience would have brought you Butch Davis...

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