While Lane Kiffin isn't thought to be a strong candidate to take over at Southern California, his contract at Tennessee would appear to make such a move feasible.
According to the terms of his contract, the Vols' head football coach would incur an $800,000 penalty if he were to leave for another job during this off-season. Moreover, those buyouts are often paid by the school that makes the hire.
Kiffin has strong ties to USC, which is looking for a coach to replace Pete Carroll, who was hired Monday by the Seattle Seahawks as head coach.
Kiffin coached at USC from 2001 to 2006. He was hired as tight ends coach and promoted to offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator before leaving to become head coach of the Oakland Raiders in January 2007.
Reportedly, Kiffin isn't a likely replacement for Carroll, partly because the 34-year-old has only one year of experience as a college head coach.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Oregon State coach Mike Riley was USC's first target, but Riley signed a three-year contract extension and said publicly he has no intentions of leaving Oregon State.
The Times reported that Jacksonville Jaguars head coach, Jack Del Rio, who played linebacker at USC, is the next likely target.
Steve Sarkisian, who completed his first year as head coach at Washington after leaving USC as an assistant, also is considered a candidate.
Sarkisian and Kiffin were co-coordinators at USC before Kiffin left for the NFL.
Kiffin's highly publicized NCAA issues could work against him at USC.
The Trojans are dealing with serious NCAA issues, including former tailback Reggie Bush's alleged acceptance of gifts and housing for his parents. The Trojans self-imposed penalties for their recruitment of basketball star O.J. Mayo and the alleged gifts he received while a student-athlete.
In his contract which was signed last month, Kiffin was cited with six secondary violations. UT also self-reported another possible violation to the SEC when recruiting intern Steve Rubio traveled to South Florida on a recruiting trip.
The NCAA has been looking into possible violations concerning two hostesses traveling to Duncan, S.C., to see two prospects play in a high school game. The hostess issue received extensive national exposure.
The Southern Cal opening could still cause dominoes to fall all the way to Knoxville. UT recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron also has strong ties to USC and could be approached by whomever the Trojans hire as defensive coordinator or recruiting coordinator.
Orgeron coached at USC from 1998 to 2004 before going to Ole Miss as head coach. At USC, Orgeron coached the defensive line and was eventually named associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.
Orgeron told the News Sentinel last month that he is committed to UT despite other job openings.
USC and UT have proved they are willing to compete financially for coaches. Carroll reportedly made $4.4 million annually. Kiffin makes only $2 million per year at UT, but his assistant coaches are among the highest paid in the nation.
Kiffin has declined comment on the USC vacancy.