Kiffin says losing assistants is 'a good thing'

UT coach won't stand in the way

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, left, said he will help promote assistants like running backs coach Eddie Gran, who has interviewed for the vacant Memphis job.

Don't expect Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin to be surprised if one of his assistants leaves for another job. Such defections are almost expected.

"Anytime you shoot high, that's going to happen," Kiffin said. "If you shoot high and you get great coaches and recruiters like this, you're going to eventually lose them.

"If we're losing guys, it's a good thing, because usually if you're losing guys that means you're successful and winning a bunch of games."

The Vols (5-5, 2-4 in the SEC) haven't won a bunch of games yet but competitive games against the league's elite - Alabama and Florida - and some strong recruiting might have some headhunters thinking about UT's coaches when they look to fill vacant coaching positions.

Running backs coach Eddie Gran is the first to have such interest go public. Gran, who also coaches UT's special teams and is a key recruiter, interviewed with Memphis on Sunday, according to a source close to hiring process.

It's unclear how strong a candidate Gran is to replace Tommy West, who was fired last week during his ninth season as the Tigers' coach.

LSU assistant head coach Larry Porter, Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill, North Alabama head coach Terry Bowden, Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster are leading candidates to replace West, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Former UT coach Trooper Taylor, assistant head coach at Auburn, also might interview.

Gran's biggest impact on UT's program has been felt in recruiting. The 44-year-old is considered one of the country's best in South Florida. In fewer than three weeks on UT's staff, Gran convinced highly touted athlete Nu'Keese Richardson to sign in February 2009.

Richardson was dismissed from UT on Monday after being charged with attempted armed robbery last week. However, his signing was considered a huge recruiting coup.

Richardson, who is from Pahokee (Fla.) High School, was considered one of the top prospects in the nation and had been committed to Florida for months.

The Vols have five commitments for the 2010 class from South Florida: offensive lineman Jose Jose, linebacker Ralph Williams, kicker Michael Palardy and athletes Ted Meline and Delvin Jones.

On the field, Gran's running backs have been highly productive, but his special teams have repeatedly struggled.

Kiffin declined to talk specifically about any coachwho may be a candidate for another school, but said he wouldn't begrudge a coach for leaving UT after one season.

He even said he would help promote an assistant for another job. He said he learned that from his former boss, Southern California coach Pete Carroll, who has been a mentor for two of college football's youngest head coaches: Kiffin, 34, and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, 35.

"That's an example of Pete promoting his guys," Kiffin said. "A lot of head coaches don't promote their guys, don't want to help their guys because they're trying to keep them because they're selfish about it.

"I think that when coaches do a great job for you and work their tail off for you and are here every morning (and) every night (and work) forever on the road (recruiting), you owe it to them to help them to get promotions. I would always help our guys."

Kiffin's guys may prove to be more apt to leave than the coaches who worked under former UT coach Phillip Fulmer. Many coaches under Fulmer were longtime assistants with strong ties to UT. That led to relatively little turnover in Fulmer's 17-year tenure.

Most of Kiffin's staff has far less connection to him or UT. Dubbed an all-star staff by some, UT's coaches have plenty of ties elsewhere.

Gran coached for Tommy Tuberville for most of his career, meaning Gran could rejoin Tuberville if he returns to coaching. Linebackers coach Lance Thompson is a highly regarded coach and recruiter that would be a valuable addition for any school.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has ties to the Big Ten and the NFL and a long, valuable history of coaching successful quarterbacks, such as Purdue's Drew Brees and Kyle Orton.

UT's other, younger coaches could be interested in adding more responsibilities and/or titles to their resumes.

It seems unlikely that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin would leave for another school after leaving the NFL in December to coach for his son. The elder Kiffin, 69, has steadfastly denied he will retire soon.

Assistant head coach Ed Orgeron, who coaches UT's defensive linemen and is recruiting coordinator, is one of the most intriguing coaches to watch as more jobs come open. Orgeron has expressed interest in becoming a head coach again after being fired by Ole Miss in 2008 after three seasons.

"With anything, your first head job, you always make mistakes," Kiffin said. "I know that he knows his mistakes but he can coach ball, he can recruit great players and I just think he would hire different assistants."

One of those assistants could be UT receivers coach Frank Wilson, who Orgeron has known for years. They are both from Louisiana and coached together at Ole Miss.

Kiffin called Orgeron an incredible head coaching candidate.

"Here's a guy that's proven again that he can go anywhere and get players," Kiffin said. "Look at the example of him coming here. He was here for such a short time and we signed a top-10 class (in February), the No. 1 player in the country (tailback Bryce Brown) and look what's going on this year."

The Vols rank sixth in the nation in recruiting for the 2010 class, according to Scout and Rivals.

"And think about a lot of the kids we've been getting this year when we were 2-3 or we were 4-4," Kiffin said. "It's easy to recruit when you're 8-0 or 9-0. He's done a phenomenal job."

Kiffin also pointed to last week's opponent, Ole Miss, as proof that Orgeron can quickly upgrade a team's talent. Twenty of Ole Miss' 22 starters are juniors or seniors recruited by Orgeron. The Rebels beat the Vols 42-17 on Saturday.

"Look at the defensive linemen they have. Look at the tailback. Look at the quarterback," Kiffin said. "Those are all guys he brought in there."

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Comments » 55

Shep818 writes:

Knibb High Football Rules!

hgvol writes:

Hope he stays , but if he goes best of luck. You gotta like Eddie Gran.

DownTheField writes:

It's gonna be a wild ride.

utvolz#637682 writes:

Would hate for any of them to leave so soon, but you can't deny them the opportunity to get promoted and add to their resume.

NoogaVol55 writes:

Well, I thought it might be a few years away before we talked about this but...such is life.

FatherVol writes:

I wouldn't take the U of M job unless I already had a coffin because it's a career killer in football.

hillbillyvol writes:

get the job done at UT frist to soon for anyone to leave /if this was the case why in the hell did ut pay them so much money.

SmokeyHound writes:

never take a memphis job - you will just fiail and get fired again. it is a cycle if you havnt noticed

utvol2485 writes:

in response to hillbillyvol:

get the job done at UT frist to soon for anyone to leave /if this was the case why in the hell did ut pay them so much money.

"if this was the case why in the hell did ut pay them so much money."

UT paid them that kind of money because they had to...this is the best coaching/recruiting staff in the nation. How many assistant coaches left for head coaching jobs when Fulmer was here? I can only think of one.

It's a compliment when other schools come looking to hire assistant coaches. Additionally, if one of our assistants does get a head coaching job elsewhere the other school will have to buy out the rest of their contract I do believe.

KiFFiNOMiCS writes:

The Memphis job in college football is about as bad as the Oakland job in the N.F.L.

chad_t31 writes:

I just love these distractions during the season! Wooo hoo!

tapeworm writes:

How good can your recruiting resume really be, if it's filled with low character guys? It's easy to find talent and convince them to come to UT - after all, how many programs can match the whole package here? But, really doing your homework and making sure recruits are "who you thought they were," is imperative.

orangekoolaid2 writes:

Stable, no frills, loyalty, 173 wins, 150+ wins,
Parents like it, players like it. Fans only ask "did we win today?" THus we have Kiffin and now the circus of the revolving door. We are all fools for Mike H's spin. Please don not shooT

TommyJack writes:

in response to orangekoolaid2:

Stable, no frills, loyalty, 173 wins, 150+ wins,
Parents like it, players like it. Fans only ask "did we win today?" THus we have Kiffin and now the circus of the revolving door. We are all fools for Mike H's spin. Please don not shooT

Wow. Are you serious?

99gator writes:

in response to orangekoolaid2:

Stable, no frills, loyalty, 173 wins, 150+ wins,
Parents like it, players like it. Fans only ask "did we win today?" THus we have Kiffin and now the circus of the revolving door. We are all fools for Mike H's spin. Please don not shooT

i miss fulmer too.

those were the days.

bobbytodd writes:

I can understand not fighting to hold someone back but is he running a campaign to find them a job somewhere else? Maybe he can help Orgeron find a gig early enough to take half our 2010 class with him.

the10sevol writes:

in response to KiFFiNOMiCS:

The Memphis job in college football is about as bad as the Oakland job in the N.F.L.

good analogy.

GBO

d_ray writes:

"Gran convinced highly touted athlete Nu'Keese Richardson to sign in February 2009."

hmmmm .... This should have been left out of the article because it is a negative not a positive.

the10sevol writes:

in response to 99gator:

i miss fulmer too.

those were the days.

lol!

GBO

TNPilgrim writes:

If they want Gran, let them have him. Nu'Keese and his type would fit in well in Memphis. Of all the assistants, it's hard to believe Gran would even be considered. However, he would be one of the easiest ones to replace.

VOLinDAWGland writes:

Another reason why some of Fulmer's assistants may have been in high demand is because they weren't very good.

tapeworm writes:

I'm not sure that LOSING assistants is a "good thing." However, having other programs WANTING TO HIRE our assistants is a "good thing." This didn't much happen under Fulmer. Even with Fulmer. Makes you wonder.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree...Memphis is a graveyard job.....there's not one coach in modern times(going back to Pancoast) that has left Memphis for a better job...most wind up in a downward spiral after the humilation of being the Memphis coach....Like you say...always has been, always will be....

CoverOrange writes:

in response to VOLinDAWGland:

Another reason why some of Fulmer's assistants may have been in high demand is because they weren't very good.

The good ones left after sprouting wings on their feet. The bad ones grew cement galoshes. Fulmer thought it was adoring loyalty.

jsm67vol writes:

in response to bobbytodd:

I can understand not fighting to hold someone back but is he running a campaign to find them a job somewhere else? Maybe he can help Orgeron find a gig early enough to take half our 2010 class with him.

I was just thinking the same thing. Its ok to give good reference for an asst. coach but I don't like the thought of UT being a revolving door for coaches. Its too early in the rebuilding stage to have to talk about this. I don't think CEG will get the UM position and probably just wants to be able to put on his resume that he interviewed for the position and was considered. Helps Gran with the interview process when the job comes along that he really wants.

Couchdummy writes:

in response to orangekoolaid2:

Stable, no frills, loyalty, 173 wins, 150+ wins,
Parents like it, players like it. Fans only ask "did we win today?" THus we have Kiffin and now the circus of the revolving door. We are all fools for Mike H's spin. Please don not shooT

Dang, happy hour must have run a little late today.

tennezz writes:

in response to TNPilgrim:

If they want Gran, let them have him. Nu'Keese and his type would fit in well in Memphis. Of all the assistants, it's hard to believe Gran would even be considered. However, he would be one of the easiest ones to replace.

Are you kidding? He has the best Florida connections of any recruiters that we have!

volsbandit writes:

i think gran recruits thugs

volnutone writes:

BRING TROOPER HOME!!

dvol writes:

Maybe Gran can recruit and coach running backs. But, I can't see us missing him on Special Teams. We have seen our special teams heading in the wrong direction for a few years now. But, this year is the worst, we can't even kick a field goal. Wonder if we have enough money left to hire a good special teams coach?

tractoronthepole writes:

I would not be surprised to see Cheney leave. His role seems minimized and his past success would lead you to believe he is deserving of more responsibility. When I watch interviews with him I get the feeling he feels his coaching talent is underutilized. JMO.

Loud_Proud writes:

wow..just ending their first year and we are already talking about head coaching jobs for our assistants?? how depressing for UT fans...:(

RockinTop writes:

I would be surprised if he goes to Memphis....I mean it's Memphis. No way I would ever move there.

I think he's smarter than that anyway. His stock goes WAY up in a few years if he hangs around.....and I think he knows it.

This is positive press and good press regardless of the posters that say Nukeese is a negative to him. Nukeese is responsible for Nukeese's actions off the field, not Coach Gran.

Anyway.....the fact people want our coaches is a good thing and good press and CLK knows it. My guess is they're sitting around laughing going "cool, more recruiting attention".....and It was probably part of the plan to even go for the interview knowing full well the press would be all over it.

Go Big Orange!

TnScooby writes:

in response to tapeworm:

How good can your recruiting resume really be, if it's filled with low character guys? It's easy to find talent and convince them to come to UT - after all, how many programs can match the whole package here? But, really doing your homework and making sure recruits are "who you thought they were," is imperative.

Appropriate screen name....Produce facts of "resume filled with low character guys" or STFU

tntorbett writes:

in response to 99gator:

i miss fulmer too.

those were the days.

I don't miss fulmer one bit, we wouldn't have been competitive against Florida or Alabama this year under him. His dismissal was one of the best things that has happened for UT in a decade. And for all who wanna conitnue to bring up the arrests last week. HOW MANY DID FULMER HAVE OVER THE LAST 2 SEASONS?????? 5 SEASONS??? I mean we had a punter who was arrested 5 times for DUI before he was ever disciplined. LaMarcus Coker was on the 4 strikes & your out policy (4 failed drug tests). Do please don't even try to compare fulmer to kiffin in those regards. Kiffin runs a tight ship, that's not to say everyone who comes in is gonna be a saint, but at least he doesn't put up w/ the nonsense.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Shhhhhhh...

richvol writes:

in response to BIGGEST_UT_FAN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You make a really good point Big...In addition to turning a blind eye to discipline for talented players,Fulmer wouldn't play them either. Doubly stupid.

shopsports#273141 writes:

Is publishing this opinion (for Lane) his excuse for why we don't get florida recruits, now? They lost them because the brats don't know where the person recruiting them will be coaching. Seems like a useless fact to give voice to. Lane isn't showing much poise in the face of adversity this week. This is the first time he has disappointed me. Is he trying to roll back hope to five years to win 10 games with no chanpionship, no defeating AL or FL??

Southland writes:

we have a bunch of journey men for assistants. No loyalty among a one of them. With the job Gran has done with special teams why in the world would anyone want him. No body went thru more assistants than Johnny Majors. Part of it was because most couldnt stand to work under him. Well, if they go hopefully we can find one that is good at coaching AND recruiting.

kevin151 writes:

If the coaches that recruit kids keep leaving, how is that a good thing?????

BeRealistic writes:

Taking the memphis job & getting fired a year or two later isn't improving your resume.

OTPVol writes:

Maybe having a fresh staff isn't such a bad thing. Monte's staying. Lane's staying. Special teams is our only glaring weakness (outside of inexperience). Lane seemed to know which coaches to tag as assitants. I suspect these aren't the only ones in the nation. Just as freshmen see Coach staying true to his word that the best will play, doesn't it make sense coaches will also do the same?

Tnjim writes:

We have a special teams coach?

JethroBodine1980 writes:

Didn't the ney sayers say the same thing to Spurrier about the Duke job?

asleep#212036 writes:

The bottom line is that nobody hired away Fulmer's coaches because with few exceptions, nobody wanted them. Cutcliffe was the most obvious exception and he has succeeded. Kiffin does work off an NFL mentality where coaches may stay in the league 30 years but move around to several different teams. I can't argue with his success so far running our program more like a business and less like a college sport. As far as Kiffin's composure this week, I think he has done exactly as I thought. No emotion, no over-reactions, no rash decisions, clear action once the decision was reached. Like a CEO, which he is. If our coaches want to leave, let 'em. If somebody else wants them, then they are probably pretty good at what they do. And the more of them that get better jobs, the more desirable an assistant coach's job is at UT, meaning more talented people coming through. Recruiting is the only issue but other staffs in our conference, including the elites like UF, Bama, and LSU, all do the same thing. Go Vols!!!

Ayres_Hall writes:

Talented employees leave. It's a reality in today's working environments and college football assistants are no different. CLK is right to promote his assistants as would any good leader of a business or organization.

We are no longer your Daddy's football program.

givehim6 writes:

Kiffin is talking like Grat already has the job, and is looking for coach O to be the next to go. He might want to a least say he hopes Grant stays, and coach O also.

commonsense32 writes:

in response to tractoronthepole:

I would not be surprised to see Cheney leave. His role seems minimized and his past success would lead you to believe he is deserving of more responsibility. When I watch interviews with him I get the feeling he feels his coaching talent is underutilized. JMO.

I agree with this 100% and I have posted this on the boards before. I think Cheney is one of the few truly brilliant offensive minds in college football and he is being underutilized for sure.. I cannot understand how the man who had a top 5 offense in college football for 10 years in a row at Purdue!, no less doesn't call the plays as an offensive coordinator. I hope CLK realizes how valuable this man is as a playcaller and turn over the duties to him.

BeRealistic writes:

in response to commonsense32:

I agree with this 100% and I have posted this on the boards before. I think Cheney is one of the few truly brilliant offensive minds in college football and he is being underutilized for sure.. I cannot understand how the man who had a top 5 offense in college football for 10 years in a row at Purdue!, no less doesn't call the plays as an offensive coordinator. I hope CLK realizes how valuable this man is as a playcaller and turn over the duties to him.

I agree 100%. I don't know if CLK calls every play, but if he does without input from Cheney, I disagree. You can't see from sidelines like you can from press box.

arlvol writes:

Coach Gran will be knee deep in recruiting 2 star players and developing 'project' athletes at Tiger High. Thats not for everyone especially when dealing with 4-5 star athletes from the SEC the past 8 years.

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