Would Tennessee " Kiffin" somebody?
As some UT fans might vaguely remember, coach Lane Kiffin left the Vols after only one season for the head-coaching job at Southern California. UT is still trying to recover from his hasty departure.
But suppose Tennessee found itself in USC's position. Would it hire a coach who had been at another school for only a year?
Would it Kiffin somebody?
I raise the question for a couple of reasons:
UT's football program is at such a low ebb, it can ill afford restrictions in its coaching search.
There are so many coaches who have distinguished themselves in their first season at a school.
The most obvious one is former Florida coach Urban Meyer, whose first Ohio State team is unbeaten. It's just as obvious UT has no chance of hiring Meyer. He already has a better job, and it doesn't require him to coach against Nick Saban every year.
Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin falls into the same category. UT had a shot at him three years ago when he was at Houston. Now, he has a better job, an upset of No. 1 Alabama on his resume and a freshman quarterback in the running for the Heisman Trophy.
Below Meyer and Sumlin are first-year coaches Rich Rodriguez at Arizona and Jim Mora Jr. at UCLA. Neither one is a one-year wonder. Rodriguez had great success at West Virginia, and was Alabama's choice when things initially weren't working out with Saban. Mora had two NFL head-coaching jobs before succeeding Rick Neuheisel at UCLA after last season.
Rodriguez isn't without baggage, most of it acquired in a disastrous stint at Michigan. Also, his exit from West Virginia wasn't exactly graceful.
But the guy can coach, especially offense. He was one of the first coaches to embrace the spread, which he employed as an offensive coordinator at Tulane when it went 12-0 in 1998.
His offense hasn't slowed down at Arizona, which ranks 18th nationally in rushing and 14th in passing.
Mora first made a name for himself on defense before he was named head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2004, and later with the Seattle Seahawks in 2009, who fired him after only one season. Failure in the NFL doesn't mean much, though. Even Bill Belichick got fired by the Cleveland Browns.
UCLA already has won eight games under Mora. In six previous seasons, under two different coaches, the Bruins never won more than seven.
"Why would either Mora or Rodriguez leave his job for UT after a successful first season?" you ask.
Good question. After extensive research, I've determined that Tennessee isn't their dream job.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham doesn't need a dream to change jobs after a year. He already has Kiffined two programs, first Rice in 2006 and then Pittsburgh in 2011.
After last season, he told Panthers players goodbye via email and rushed off to Arizona State. All he left behind was a nickname: "Mr. All Talk Then Walk."
Actually, he's not all talk. He was 7-6 at Rice, 36-17 at Tulsa, and is now 5-5 at Arizona State, which returned only eight starters and has had four consecutive losing seasons.
If the Vols' coaching search turns desperate — and they're not above Kiffining somebody — Graham could be their guy.