Lane Kiffin Circus Rolls to USC
Knowing Kiffin, he'll probably have O.J. Simpson texting 10th graders on behalf of USC. If the kid eventually signs with Notre Dame, the Trojans' new coach will accuse the pope of cheating.
Just when you think college coaching shenanigans couldn't sink any lower, Kiffin set a new standard for ... sheesh, I don't know if there's a single word that fits. It's a combination of selfishness, soullessness, chutzpah and hypocrisy.
At least Jim Leavitt choked only one player. Kiffin back-stabbed an entire university. That included thousands of people who believed in him and defended him despite mounting evidence over the past year that he was an unrepentant snot.
I don't hate to say I told you so, Vols fans. When your hound dog lies down with an ethical mutt like Kiffin, you're going to get fleas, ticks and NCAA letters of reprimand. But if it's any consolation, the rest of the world was with y'all Tuesday night when students tried to crash Kiffin's going-away press conference and turn him into a pinata.
After giving countless speeches the past year professing his dedication to the Rocky Top, he spent about two minutes saying adios, amigos.
"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.
Hopefully, he'll forgive all those ungrateful players for not buying him a going-away present. About the only thing Kiffin proved in 14 months was that he could recruit. Impressionable teenagers had faith in him, as did a lot of impressionable adults. Now they all know what Elin Woods has been going through.
One-and-done is supposed to be a basketball problem. But at least with the Derrick Roses of the world you know what you're getting. An over-indulged teenager just killing time until something better comes along.
The difference is Kiffin only acts like a bratty teen. For all his blather about singing "Rocky Top" deep into the night, the word "Tennessee" just as easily could have been "Arizona State" or "LSU" coming out of his mouth. His only real loyalty is to himself.
Sure, we expect coaches to get wandering eyes and leave. But they usually have the decency to stick around long enough to at least pretend they really cared.
It would have been understandable if USC was Kiffin's alma mater or he had driven the White Bronco with O.J. in back. There was no legacy here. Being an ex-assistant doesn't qualify as Going Home Again.
I think USC's a better job, but Tennessee isn't exactly Delaware State. Kiffin owed the Volunteers more than a year of his precious time, if for no other reason than the school perpetuated the Lane Kiffin Myth.
What has he really done besides parlay Pete Carroll's success into a disastrous NFL gig in Oakland, which apparently made Tennessee think he was a Golden Boy? We won't know if Kiffin can actually coach until he stays in one place long enough to get his forwarded mail.
That's USC's worry now, along with the NCAA's investigation into Bush Era atrocities. Tennessee has plenty of its own problems, like finding a coach in the next two hours.
Recruits are bailing, but at least they have that option. What about the kids who'd already enrolled, thinking Kiffin meant it when he said together they'd restore Rocky Top's glory?
If it's any consolation, Tennessee will be better off in the long run. It may get a proven coach, one who doesn't believe that the ends always justify the means.
Kiffin's recruiting coordinator, Ed Orgeron, is going with him to USC. Multiple reports have stated that, as the staff met with players Tuesday night, Orgeron told freshmen who were about to enroll that they might want to re-think things and go to USC.
If you're going to stab a program in the back, you might as well twist the knife. That's what you get with a guy like Kiffin.
Tennessee's hound dog learned that the hard way. If there's any justice in the world, the next victim of flea infestation will be a Trojan horse.