The consensus opinion on Tennessee's hiring of Lane Kiffin was that he would be a boom or bust. But no one expected to have the answer a year after he was hired.
Turns out he was both. He accomplished enough in one year at UT to land the head-coaching job at Southern California.
He succeeded. But he failed the Vols.
The boom you just heard was the UT football program exploding.
I'm pausing now to think of a worse-case scenario for the Vols.
OK, I give up. There's not a worse-case scenario. And imagining worst-case scenarios is one of my strengths.
The Vols have lost 13 games in the last two years. The young, enthusiastic head coach who offered so much promise is checking out after one year on a rebuilding job that will take years. Next year's schedule is one of UT's toughest ever. The signing date for recruits is less than a month away.
And, oh by the way, the NCAA has expressed an official interest in UT football.
Wonder if Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis has gotten a phone call from UT athletic director Mike Hamilton yet? They suddenly have something in common. Both wish they had never seen Lane Kiffin.
When Kiffin was hired, he characterized UT as one of the premier coaching jobs in the country. He left it looking like a stepping-stone job.
He also left it under NCAA investigation.
Don't get me wrong. There are no hard feelings on this end. Kiffin is a columnist's dream. From his first day on the job to his last, he was a column waiting to happen.
But I don't think Hamilton will share my gratitude. Neither will the UT family.
Hamilton and UT took a chance on Kiffin, who had never been a college head coach and who had been fired by the Raiders after less than two years on the job. He repaid the Vols by skipping town at the worst possible time.
In fact, Kiffin is merely doing what coaches do on a regular basis. They leave for better jobs without so much as glancing at their rear-view mirror or recalling all the promises they made to media, boosters, or - most importantly - players.
But this isn't Miami of Ohio or the University of Cincinnati. This is UT.
And there's nothing routine about leaving it.
Now, the program Kiffin left behind in disarray can only do what its last coach just did - move on.
My advice: Don't hire Wade Houston.
When former UT athletic director Doug Dickey became frustrated with trying to hire a basketball coach years ago, he seemingly turned to Houston out of frustration. You might remember that didn't produce spectacular results.
Never mind that Kiffin is leaving for a better job. UT is still better than 85 percent of the college coaching jobs. There's no reason it can't hire another good coach, one who might even stick around long enough to see his first recruiting class graduate.
Hamilton needs to get past the post-traumatic-departure syndrome and go about hiring a new coach just as he did after firing Phillip Fulmer in 2008.
He also needs to think big, not small.
The names that come to mind for me are the same ones that popped up when I thought Urban Meyer might be resigning as Florida's coach. I like Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, Bobby Petrino at Arkansas and maybe even Dan Mullen at Mississippi State.
Forget what Rodriguez has done at Michigan, where he clearly doesn't fit in.
Remember what he did at West Virginia.
As for Petrino, he's an outstanding offensive coach. He proved that at Louisville and he has proved it again in just two years at Arkansas.
Mullen also worked wonders with Mississippi State's offense this season.
Moreover, Florida's offense was clearly better when he was Meyer's offensive coordinator.
I realize Mullen has only been at Mississippi State for a year. But as Kiffin just reminded you, that's hardly a deal breaker.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.