Strange: Kiffin leaves a mess in his wake

Mike Strange

I never thought Lane Kiffin would retire here.

I thought he might stay long enough to register to vote or get a library card.

In yet another bizarre exit scene that characterizes Tennessee football farewells, Kiffin on Tuesday night said see ya' later.

"There was not one day I didn't give everything I had to Tennessee football,'' Kiffin said in a brief statement to print and electronic media.

I don't doubt him one bit. But by my count, there were only 408 days.

Starting today, he'll give everything he has to Southern Cal football.

Tennessee football? Let the chips fall where they may.

Men's athletic director Mike Hamilton left town Monday on a business trip, his spirits buoyed by a basketball miracle.

He had to be stunned as he was flying home from Denver on Tuesday night. Maybe somewhere over Missouri he passed Kiffin's plane headed west.

Hamilton released a statement saying the search for a new coach is on.

But the timing is awful. Who's available? Other than Mike Leach, Mark Mangino and Jim Leavitt, I mean?

These good-byes are always messy.

At the time, the Johnny Majors ouster press conference in a Memphis hotel conference room in 1992 was the most uncomfortable UT scene I had witnessed.

Then came the Phillip Fulmer press conference November 2008, equal parts sad and angry.

Both of those guys gave the better part of their careers to Tennessee. Naturally, their departures would be watershed events.

Kiffin was one-and-done but the show at the Brenda Lawson Athletics Center on Tuesday night topped them both in its own way.

Lane Kiffin leaves UT for USC

Local media were hastily notified to show up for a 9:30 press conference. They did. So did a bunch of angry students, who made it into the building carrying a sign:

"Go Home Traitor. It's Time.''

Then the media got angry.

UT spokesman Bud Ford informed the TV folks there would be no live cameras - or else Kiffin wasn't coming. WBIR news director Bill Shory wouldn't stand for it.

There was shouting. The print and radio folks figured a little Kiffin was better than no Kiffin.

"He's a snake,'' offered Mark Packer of WVLT, comparing Kiffin's fly-by-night exit to that of Kevin O'Neill 12 years ago.

Come to think of it, is Southern Cal collecting former Tennessee coaches?

At any rate, a little Kiffin was all we got. He made a brief statement, typically impassive, then turned and left as questions about Tennessee fans and recruits were shouted at his back.

He left chaos in his wake.

By comparison, Florida's program is rock solid. At least Urban Meyer's leave of absence is temporary. Kiffin's is permanent.

Several of his newest recruits, the mid-term enrollees, were set to attend their first class this morning.

Fred White, wearing his 1998 national championship ring, was standing at the back of the room Tuesday night.

"All those promises,'' White said, shaking his head.

Maybe this short tenure shouldn't come as a total shock. Hamilton was stretching a bit when he hired a young gun with no ties to the program.

Kiffin assembled an impressive staff. He started with NFL guys, who are generally itinerant by nature. Then he plucked ace recruiters from SEC rivals. Two of his guys had already beat him out the door.

I'm reminded of the tale of the Three Little Pigs. This wasn't a house rebuilt out of bricks.

Turns out it was straw, and it's been blown down.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276.

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Comments » 64

Cromptons1Cuz writes:

First!

nwcs writes:

May USC lose every game next year

USNVOL writes:

Kiffin = Liar.

bobbarbilly writes:

Character counts.

Go4Two writes:

Sometimes you reap what you sow. Treat people badly get the same in return

agohn writes:

It's Time...For what Lane? You have ruined a top 5 class and a chance to be the man in the SEC. You leave us with nothing you f*ck! I wish the students would have gotten their hands on you. F YOU!!!

DannyVol writes:

Sickening. If you have a lick of sense, you cannot be surprised. That said, there were a bunch of folks blasting Strange for publishing the story about Kiffin even being as a candidate for the USC job. Personally, I never got on the "Lane Train" because I smelled a rat. Now, I hope we go get a grown man with class that this program deserves.

VOLorado writes:

espn is saying that muschamp is our #1 target

asleep#212036 writes:

Recruits are exhibiting expected behavior. Some have said nothing and others have officially de-committed. Of course, they can't officially commit to any other school until Feb 3, so there's time to fix it. All depends on the next hire. It had better be spot on and it had better be fast. Tough assignment for Hamilton but one of his own making by hiring Kiffin in the first place. The right coach would salvage most of this class and like Kiffin, may pick up a few surprises. Keep the faith. Things are never as bad as they seem. Go Vols!!!

bobbarbilly writes:

The two people sleeping well tonight are Coach Fulmer with a wry smile and Al Davis with visions of " They had to find out for themselves".

baldfan writes:

Please hire a coach with integrity.

BubbaVol writes:

Break the bank and go get John Gruden. The only "WOW" hire out there that will keep all the committed recuits. Why go after Will Muschamp? He'll jump to Texas the first chance he gets; his dream job.

CUSA_NEWS writes:

Awwwwhhhh,

Cheer up guys!! :-)

VOLorado writes:

in response to baldfan:

Please hire a coach with integrity.

on the bright side, it will be tough to find one with less integrity.

VolinCalif writes:

TJ
When you read this you'll remember the last week of Dec. I said my brother in Law had already heard this from a Fresno St source. I think I should work him over. But I'll need your help. Get us a couple of Jack Dan's and I'll get the JB chasers. Had hoped to see the UT Football program back on top but it looks that isn't to be. I'll check the Blog now and again but I think I'm through.

OrangePsyched writes:

Glad to hear ESPN speaking of Muschamp...I heard on WREG Memphis also that we are in hot and heavy with him. Hamilton make him an offer that he can't refuse! Maybe he can bring a couple of the Texas commits with him. Hey WM why wait 5 more yrs with Mack when you can make 3-4 mill here and have a better shade of orange!

VOLorado writes:

in response to BubbaVol:

Break the bank and go get John Gruden. The only "WOW" hire out there that will keep all the committed recuits. Why go after Will Muschamp? He'll jump to Texas the first chance he gets; his dream job.

he'd jump to uga even faster

give_him_6 writes:

Mike Hamilton needs to accept FULL responsibility for this debacle. $800,000 buy out??? Gimme a break. Boy Mike,,you got schooled on that one. If you are wanting to keep your coach, you put in a big buyout to discourage this type of thing from happening. You truly are bush league at hiring your people.

thevoice writes:

in response to DannyVol:

Sickening. If you have a lick of sense, you cannot be surprised. That said, there were a bunch of folks blasting Strange for publishing the story about Kiffin even being as a candidate for the USC job. Personally, I never got on the "Lane Train" because I smelled a rat. Now, I hope we go get a grown man with class that this program deserves.

Nice. Maybe these turds on here will eventually understand how wrong they were in putting so much faith in a classless, bratty, backless, liar. Character Counts. Always has, always will. Period. Those who don't understand now will never understand. Try Chris Petersen for starters.

ThugTillIDie writes:

in response to VOLorado:

espn is saying that muschamp is our #1 target

Screw that. He'll leave for Texas the second Brown retires. We need somebody who we can count on to be at UT for a long time. Who that might be, I do not know. I hope Hamilton does.

whiskeyman writes:

This is not Kiffin's fault. He is from there not here and our man in-charge should have seen this coming. This rest entirely on the shoulders of a very in-experienced Mike Hamilton. This guy was never one of us. Do you think for one second that Bob Woodruff or Douglas Adair Dickey would have ever made such an error as this hire? Nope!

volaholic45 writes:

traitor

volhome writes:

in response to give_him_6:

Mike Hamilton needs to accept FULL responsibility for this debacle. $800,000 buy out??? Gimme a break. Boy Mike,,you got schooled on that one. If you are wanting to keep your coach, you put in a big buyout to discourage this type of thing from happening. You truly are bush league at hiring your people.

You are absolutely right on this one. That $800K won't make a dent in paying for the damage that this potentially does to the program. Right now I'm wondering if Mike could even figure out how to make a call to Maryville to find a winning coach that wants to be on the staff. Heck, at this rate, he could be the whole staff.

Bottom line, Mike, unless you deliver platinum, we won't be believing in a coaching hire of yours for a while to come.

ThugTillIDie writes:

Hire Sarah Palin.

798orange writes:

This can be a blessing in disguise if Hamilton will take his time and think this out. My concern with Kiffin, in addition to his needless arrogance, was the real possibility of continuous violations or even probation. There is a right way to do things and I am not sure if he or some of his staff members understand that. USC may be getting more (or less) than they bargained for.

Souther writes:

in response to ThugTillIDie:

Hire Sarah Palin.

lol...Our Sarah Palin just left for USC. Also, you betcha.

FWBVol writes:

in response to whiskeyman:

This is not Kiffin's fault. He is from there not here and our man in-charge should have seen this coming. This rest entirely on the shoulders of a very in-experienced Mike Hamilton. This guy was never one of us. Do you think for one second that Bob Woodruff or Douglas Adair Dickey would have ever made such an error as this hire? Nope!

What does being from Tennessee have to do with Kiffin leaving? Lane Kiffin really isn't from California either. As a coach's son he was from where ever Monte might be coaching at a particular time.

Yes, I know what you are saying about Kiffin not having Tennessee ties, but Mack Brown didn't have Texas ties until he went to Austin to take over the Longhorns. Bob Stoops grew up in Ohio and is, from what I understand, a strong Catholic, but reportedly turned down offers from Notre Dame to stay at Oklahoma.

Dickey was not one of us, and as a coach, he left us when his alma mater, Florida called his name, and did so as we were getting ready to play the Gators in the Gator Bowl. But Dickey did come back and serve Tennessee well as AD. The truth is he only had to hire one football coach. His track record with basketball coaches wasn't impressive.

volpreacher writes:

in response to VolnotHAMILTONfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As I told you before. You are not a Vol fan. You are seen smiling behind this fiasco. The worst thing that UT could do now would be to hire Phil back. That would be when I cease to be a UT fan. I am mad that Kiffin left us but more importantly at this time during recruiting. But I will support the next guy as long as it is not
Fulmer

BustaRhymes writes:

After thinking about it a bit more - I think David Cutcliff, not Mike Leach, is the right move for the program. David brings NFL cred, can probably get the Manning boys to help out with a few key recruiting calls, and might even lure John Chavis back to campus. Throw in Kippy Brown as OC and Fulmer as a consultant to the program - and all the sudden you have a credible coaching staff with loyality to the program.

we3vols#281863 writes:

in response to VolnotHAMILTONfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

AND Remember he was fat and lazy and screwed it up before he was CANNED. Remeber the whole story or forget the whole story. S-H-I-T for barins.

FWBVol writes:

How many offenses can Nick Stephens be expected to learn in his five years at Tennessee?

As angry as we fans are, the players are the ones that will suffer the most. Kiffin betrayed them a lot worse than he betrayed any of us.

Myrsaad writes:

I have never been so upset about -anything- related to sports in my entire life.

It felt like I'd been punched in the gut when I heard this news. I'm crushed and very, very angry all at once. We believed this car salesman's lies. I, just like every other Vol fan, bought into his complete garbage about how he was in it for the long haul and dedicated to this program. I defended him on message boards because he seemed like a stand up guy.. Never in my life have I seen a major university with the reputation of UT on the football landscape be taken for a ride like this before.

We were bought and sold by this gutless worm. And our program is going to be an absolute train wreck because of how he did it. It will take 5 years to recover unless an absolute miracle occurs.

mercuryvol writes:

in response to Myrsaad:

I have never been so upset about -anything- related to sports in my entire life.

It felt like I'd been punched in the gut when I heard this news. I'm crushed and very, very angry all at once. We believed this car salesman's lies. I, just like every other Vol fan, bought into his complete garbage about how he was in it for the long haul and dedicated to this program. I defended him on message boards because he seemed like a stand up guy.. Never in my life have I seen a major university with the reputation of UT on the football landscape be taken for a ride like this before.

We were bought and sold by this gutless worm. And our program is going to be an absolute train wreck because of how he did it. It will take 5 years to recover unless an absolute miracle occurs.

Me too.But keep the faith,this is a great university.

VolO writes:

Lane Kiffin is as faithful as Tiger Woods. At least he used a trojan to screw us!

gillblog writes:

Just what I expected. Classless move from a classless guy.
Hate to say it, but I have always posted here that I had no respect for Kiffin as a man. Tragically, UT has to suffer for his childish, defective, personality.

BUT, I AM SO GLAD HE IS GONE ! ! ! !
Now, I can say again:

GO VOLS !

dan_walker#359588 writes:

Anyone who doesn't think we have the village idiot for an AD, just remember, Al Davis is saying "I told you so".

gillblog writes:

in response to Go4Two:

Sometimes you reap what you sow. Treat people badly get the same in return

In this case, UT is getting the 'bad' in return.
Kiffin is reaping wonderful returns.

Look at it this way, he is an unprincipled, self-serving, child and if he didn't ruin UT in this way he was eventually going to do it in some other way. Maybe it's better to get this over with now, because there's no telling how much more damage he could have done by staying his full contract term.

I AM SO GLAD HE's GONE !

tedb#664810 writes:

in response to BubbaVol:

Break the bank and go get John Gruden. The only "WOW" hire out there that will keep all the committed recuits. Why go after Will Muschamp? He'll jump to Texas the first chance he gets; his dream job.

Yes! John Gruden was my favorite to start with. Good riddance to LK. It was only a matter of time before this immature, loud mouth smart A got us on major probation. Frankly, I have been embarrassed that we have been the laughing stock of the SEC. Good luck USC, you have made a very bad decision.

gillblog writes:

Whoever on this site used the term "Fear the Kiffin", was exactly right.

CLK is like the Uriah Heep (the Dickens' character, not the rock band..) of college football. And, in a way this is a win for UT and a loss for USC because he will end up screwing them also.

I AM SO GLAD HE IS GONE !

GO VOLS !!!! Finally, we can get back our dignity.

volfanbymarriage writes:

Kiffin & company will be the fall guys for USC!!
UT has stumbled but we have not fallen!!!!

UTByrd writes:

Beware the Karma, you know, what goes around comes around.
Bruce Pearl's team has shown UT how to handle adversity. All is not lost.
My hope is we will face USC in NC game and kick their butts. That would be soooooo sweet. Meanwhile, let's take this truckload of lemons and make some lemonade.
Stay strong UT fans, our day in the sun will come.
Go VOLS!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

Kiffin's terse news conference was a joke. He brags about giving his all to UT each day he was here. Who's he kidding? All head coaches are paid to give it their all. He believes doing his job makes everything OK with his decision. How many recruits and their families did he muck up? Once again, beware the Karma. That includes Mike Hamilton.
Go VOLS!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

One more thought and I'll shut up.
I can't help but think he couldn't handle the heat of coaching in the best football conference in the nation. It will be a helluva lot easier to win a NC in the Pac 10 than it would be in the SEC.

AlpharettaVol writes:

Witch Doctor: where are you when we need you most to put a hex on the whole Kiffin clan? By the way, what about David Reaves, his brother-in-law? He surely can't let the sun set on him in Knoxville one more day.

dtennessee#235123 writes:

Hamilton gambled on the wrong coach and lost. It turns our Al Davis was right. We hired a self serving arrogant pierce and paid him millions to go 7-6.
Now its Hamiltons turn to do the only decent thing and resign.

gaj619 writes:

I have been a UT fan for more than 50 years so I have seen a lot of ups and downs. This is at the moment a downer. However, let's look at the upside of this:
Hamilton is 50/50 on this deal in that Fulmer had to go but Kiffin, while he did some good things, has left us in a temporary mess so he was not the right hire.
I think we have a great recruiting class coming in even though we will lose a few. Most cases where a coach leaves seem to indicate we will pick up a few so while we may be down some I don't think it will be devastating.
Most of the great players we have coming in are on defense and that gentlemen is how you win fast. Just look at Alabama! We are also an example of what defense can do (Alabama and Florida games even though we didn't win)
This indicates to me that a defensive guy is the way to go.
Muschamp must be our first priority!
We also need someone who can recruit. Muschamp and the contacts he has in Texas would be very nice to have.
I believe the following would offer continuity and stability.
HC-Muschamp
DC-HC's pick
OC-Jim Chaney
RC-Kippy Brown(assistant OC)
Do what it takes to retain the other position coaches.
It would be flashy to go out and get a coach who brings an exciting offense to UT but it does not fit our recruiting or our current strength.
JMO

WoodshedVol writes:

So much for a two week notice.

bfrank78 writes:

LMFAO..... Ole Kiffy screwed ya'll bigtime. I said from the jump dont trust him now look at all the ut fans. LOL

vick3333 writes:

Strange...you're the LOSER...you spent every negative article hoping he would fail ....thought you would be cheering....

Ayres_Hall writes:

I woke up this morning and I was not a Bama fan. So yes, there are positives in life.

At leaset we are not in the situation Bama fans found themselves after Mike Price awakened with a hooker.

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