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.
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 email@example.com or 865-342-6276.