Lane Kiffin stuns UT by taking USC job

After 1 year, head football coach returns to Southern Cal

Former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin waits inside the football complex prior to a press conference announcing that he will be leaving Jan. 12, 2010.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin waits inside the football complex prior to a press conference announcing that he will be leaving Jan. 12, 2010.

Lane Kiffin leaves UT for USC

Time's up at the University of Tennessee.

Lane Kiffin is already moving on.

After a wild 14 months featuring secondary violations, a couple of arrests and a lot of promise about the future, Kiffin stunningly resigned as the Vols' head football coach Tuesday night with an agreement in principle to accept the same position with the University of Southern California.

According to a contract signed in October, UT will receive a buyout of $800,000 for his early departure. Kiffin's five-year deal would have paid him $2.375 million annually. But UT was certainly expecting more for its money when it ponied up to bring in Kiffin and his "Dream Scheme" staff led by Monte Kiffin and Ed Orgeron - who will both go with him to take over the Trojans, leaving recently named receivers coach Kippy Brown in charge of the Vols on an interim basis.

"This was not an easy decision," Kiffin, 34, said in a hastily called press conference. "It's something that happened very quick, a decision that myself and my family made. We've been here 14 months, the support has been unbelievable here, and I really believe this is probably the only place I would have left here to go was to go to Southern Cal.

"There's so many people to thank, so I'm just going to generically say I'm very thankful to all the Tennessee people for the way they welcomed myself and our family."

The Vols hardly had time to get to know them before Kiffin bolted to the program where he built his reputation as an offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll, who was introduced as coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks hours before Kiffin was tabbed as his successor. In a whirlwind 24 hours, the Trojans were reportedly rejected by a handful of other candidates before swooping in for Kiffin, who made nearly as many headlines off the field as on it last season.

The UT offense was vastly improved, the coaching staff assembled one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and a second-place finish in the SEC East and Chick-fil-A Bowl bid gave plenty of reason for optimism with Kiffin at the helm. But there were also some issues with hostesses, an alleged attempted armed robbery and at least six secondary recruiting violations under his watch, which helped make mixed emotions the order of the night outside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.

Students react to Kiffin leaving

"The first thing I heard was somebody called me and I was shocked, I didn't believe it," junior defensive end Ben Martin said. "Then the meeting was called with the guys, still kind of didn't believe it. (Kiffin) came in and talked to us, and I give him a lot of credit for coming and talking to us because that's something a real man should do.

"It's his dream job. I wish him the best when he's out there, and it's just unfortunate that it happened right now. We've just got to bond together as a team. Focus on sticking together and making sure nobody goes by the wayside"

Doing it certainly won't be easy given the timing, particularly in terms of the highly rated recruiting class leading up to National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

That will likely make a quick, efficient coaching search mandatory for UT athletic director Mike Hamilton, who didn't appear at Kiffin's press conference as he flew back from Denver. Hamilton will meet with the media today at 1 p.m.

Early candidates to succeed Kiffin could include Gary Patterson (Texas Christian University), Troy Calhoun (Air Force ) and Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, though the last search landed UT a somewhat surprising target.

"I want to thank coach Kiffin for his work with our program this past year," Hamilton said in a release. "We have already begun a search for the new head football coach of the Tennessee Volunteers.

"We'll complete this process as quickly as possible to put the right person in place to lead our great football program forward in the months and years ahead."

The mission was the same a little more than a year ago.

Now it's time to do it again.

"Tennessee is a place that will always be great," Kiffin said. "... It's been an exciting time, and I know that I can walk out of here and say this - we've been here for 14 months and there's not one day that I didn't get everything I had to the Tennessee football program. I know just leaving that team room and looking around and the players coming in on this roster and what's going on in development, we're leaving here 14 months later a lot better team than they were 14 months ago," Kiffin said.

But taking the Vols to another level will soon be somebody else's job.

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Comments » 311

naplesflvol writes:

karma will destroy this man. no doubt about it..

V0LUNT33R writes:

UT football won't be the same...

utvolsrock writes:

air force's coach is on our short list?

V0LUNT33R writes:

UT football will never be the same. We might win 10 NC's next decade, but we are in trouble for the next ten years.

Patterson8040 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Regulator writes:

I can hardly remember it, I was very young at the time, but I can only equate this to the Baltimore Colts leaving town in the dark of night. He bailed on UT quicker than he could change his mind at the McDonald's drive thru.

volatil writes:

Calhoun, no way. Hamilton you had better make this right. It's Muschamp or don't bother coming home!

dandyseniors#546965 writes:

What a rotten deal for Tennessee this close to signing day.
You can't really blame him for returning to the school where his heart is.

cdonsbach writes:

This is a huge set back for the program.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

1st!
ESPN just reported news out of Knoxville Hamilton is targeting Muschamp tonight....

OrangeJuice writes:

hope you fall on your face kiffin, you let whole state down.

HoustonVol writes:

it remains to be seen if the team is better now than when he took over. This recruiting class is up in the air now. Hamilton will have to act quick to prevent this from setting up back a couple of years.

thaclaw writes:

just speechless

Moesart writes:

Again, many of us aren't surprised at all that Kiffin would leave for USC. Who knew the USC job would be available anytime soon?

It's a clean break. We're not married to the guy and his program. Let's just move on and hope UT is a better judge of character when they hire the next football coach.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

agohn writes:

Some users consider this comment inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

F*ck you Lane!

TnVolunteers1 writes:

Archie Manning would be a great coach and think of the draw to the Program. Imagine his two visiting sons coming here to watch, teach, and be a part of their dad's team.

tfoxi writes:

Lane stabbed us in the back.

hotshot writes:

Don't let the screen door hit you......

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

I hope Orgeron left us with a Jevan Snead like he did Mississippi...

sfrye#268517 writes:

There are many angry and disappointed Vol fans all over Big Orange Country tonight. We will find a coach that wants this job. There is a coach out there that dreams of a job like this one. We just need to find that coach quick. Mr. Hamilton, nail this hire.We have a great University and tradition to offer a coach and his family. We will get past this. Go Vols !

Moesart writes:

USC will be sorry.

Kiffin was their FOURTH CHOICE after Del Rio, Jeff Fisher and another guy turned USC down.

Loud_Proud writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

corrinebrown writes:

A real man?Ben you can't be serious!!

kevinc0465 writes:

Did you hear about Orgeron calling the early signees telling them they had a scholarship at USC. And this was during or right after Lanes talk with the team!

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

in response to Loud_Proud:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I called him a dewshbag like an hour 1/2 ago.

TennesseeGorilla writes:

You are a little boy Lane Kiffin

CoachAl writes:

Just off work central time. Think'n it was a perfect storm. Have not looked at what recruits have to say, but hear they gone. May be 5 yr to recover.

corrinebrown writes:

Take NuKeese with you ,get his mom a house!!

dburgvet writes:

Remember the Al Davis letter to UT just go back and read it! Mr Davis is very rich and has totally screwed up the Raiders, so what motivation would he have to write that letter about Kiffin? It takes a liar to spot an even bigger liar! Ya think Lil Lane was driving the get away car for Nukeese? It takes a thief to recruit a thief! oh by the way Hamilton great job fire someone with over 30 years given to UT and hire someone with a buyout of only $800,000. Tells me you did not have alot of faith in your hire or you are just in over your head. You should have it a much higher price if he left for another SEC school or as most contract do a higher price to return to a previous school. I am so sorry I forgot most SEC schools dont hire people like Kiffin except for Kentucky basketball!

Couchdummy writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

deakinbi writes:

in response to kevinc0465:

Did you hear about Orgeron calling the early signees telling them they had a scholarship at USC. And this was during or right after Lanes talk with the team!

They turn out to be Slimmy...as much as we were trying to look past it, but ED and Lane and the crew were just a little to "Slick"...ALSO\\I heard that Pete Carroll was calling recruits too...So was Urban, Mark, Steve, Les, Butch (UNC), Frank, Bobby....

cableboy1 writes:

UT..get out the checkbook..Saban just won a championship..he's ready..no matter what happens now..it has to be a star name..its gonna cost us..but go get THE best...someone everyone knows..you dont and the recruits defect..Tell Urban we've got the best heart hospital anywhere..GO VOLS..and with a sad heart Go away Kiffin..Does anyone believe in loyalty anymore..guess 2 mill a year isn't enough...

JenB (Inactive) writes:

My son says if you want someone who believes in tradition and loyalty... Phillip Fulmer or Bobby Bowden comes to mind

CUSA_NEWS writes:

Much success to you Mr Lane Kiffin sir. We at UT wish nothing but happy days ahead for you and your wonderful recruiting days and many victorious bowl games at USC!

Have fun Mr Lane and enjoy your upcoming days as USC's head coach.

Titan writes:

The University of Tennessee has been here for over 216 years. Kiffin was here for a little over one of those 216. The University will be here for the next 216 and Kiffin will only be a foggy bad memory. The sun will be up in about six hours.

BigOrangeVol writes:

in response to Loud_Proud:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I called that one 410 days ago.

Moesart writes:

Go ahead and LOL at a coach that leaves SEC football to go to Pac 10 football.

It's like leaving a fine steakhouse and going to a vending machine.

whizkidtn writes:

Totally class-less, no character and no integrity. What a poor example for our young men on the football team and for the whole university. Just so sad and completely narcissistic.

mypfsman#293062 writes:

GO KIFFEN!!!
(and take your Daddy with you!)

jro writes:

How dare Lane Kiffin say he gave "his all to Tennessee," And "thanking" Tennessee for showing his family hospitality. Thats what we do in the South. Lane Kiffin is a "punk." I am glad to see him go!

bigorangefan#314838 writes:

in response to V0LUNT33R:

UT football will never be the same. We might win 10 NC's next decade, but we are in trouble for the next ten years.

is it me, or does this just not make sense?

pdowned writes:

Most of you clowns were the Kiffin Kool Aid drinkers all along. All you cared about was getting rid of the one coach who showed incredible loyalty to the program. All of a sudden, loyalty to the University looks a lot more valuable doesn't it you Bozos?

chinarobert writes:

Phil Fulmer should never have been fired. Hamilton is the one who should be fired. We had 100% loyalty before and now we have nothing.

Moesart writes:

in response to pdowned:

Most of you clowns were the Kiffin Kool Aid drinkers all along. All you cared about was getting rid of the one coach who showed incredible loyalty to the program. All of a sudden, loyalty to the University looks a lot more valuable doesn't it you Bozos?

It's a UT football coach, not a Pope. You don't get the job for life.

Fulmer did some great things for TN and we appreciate that, but the SEC had passed him up. It was time for him to go.

jzt writes:

I dont blame you Lane, who wants to play in packed stadiums with rabid fans. I hope you remember the Volwalk when USC plays Washington State in front of a half full Coliseum. Tennessee fans knew all along that he is a little spoiled jerk, we were willing to accept because of our love for the football program. Daddy will not always be there to get you your next job. I am certain that not all of your superstar assistants will go with you, they have had enough of the antics as well. Hamilton should have been able to see right through this, do your homework next time because it will probably be your last.

MontyPython writes:

Lane Kiffin and Pete Carroll will one day realize that they themselves are not the "big attraction" but only the people who organize the game. It's the people in the trenches that win or lose games for them. Pete lost most of his good supporting cast and had a so-so year to show for it. Lane would be nothing more than a obnoxious punk were it not for his excellent coaching staff. Both coaches have an over stated self worth and the lure of star appeal is too much for them to refuse. I know that the Volunteers will rebuild and become stronger from what has happened today. And I feel sorry for the SC fans who will have to contend with a coach who puts his ego ahead of his job teaching young men character and values.

mypfsman#293062 writes:

GO KIFFIN!!!
(and take your Daddy with you!)

allvoljoe writes:

I have been pondering this thought all night. I know I will have a lot of quick...and critical... judgments... but I just ask that you think about it.
Why not give Phillip Fulmer his job back? Who else loves the universtiy like he does? Who else out there could possibly be better then him? Will Muschamp wants to coach at Texas. So when Mac Brown is gone...he'll be gone. (2 years-max.) Fulmer got a year off to re-organize, re-energize, and gain a fresh perspective. He is loyal. He is a great recruiter-- he had the #2 recruiting class in the nation when we fired him. And, he's a smart, experienced, player's coach.

Yep, I am officially in the "hire Phillip Fulmer" camp. We won't do any better then him. We just better hurry before South Florida snatches him.

TellicoTiger writes:

Muschamp won't come to TN! That's like Moses parting the orange sea and it's not gonna happen!

War Damn Eagle.....dream on volunteers!

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