Lane Kiffin is the poster boy for what's wrong in college football. Here is a guy who had never been a head coach at any level and within 3 years of his first head coaching job he becomes the top dog at one of the premier programs in the country leaving a wake of I don't know what behind him.
First Oakland's Al Davis hires him to coach the Raiders. That made him the youngest head coach ever in the NFL. After leading the Raiders to a stellar 5 -15, Davis fired Kiffin calling him a "flat out liar" and saying Kiffin brought disgrace to the organization.
Kiffin then parlayed his extensive resume into the head coaching job at the University of Tennessee with a starting salary of $2 million per year. It was a 6 year deal with an escalating salary. There he wrongly accused Florida coach Urban Meyers of recruiting violations. He was forced to recant and apologize. His regime committed a string of secondary recruiting violations while he coached the Vols to a 7-6 record and then got thrashed in a bowl game.
After just 14 months on the job Kiffin is now bolting from Knoxville for sunny California. He takes over the USC football team. Pete Carroll just left that job to coach the Seattle Seahawks. Carroll has tried his luck in the NFL twice before with little success. But he appears to be leaving USC at a good time. Southern Cal must go before the NCAA next month to answer allegations of recruiting irregularities in the football program and the men's basketball team.
This raises a number of questions. What is it that makes these big name programs want to hire Lane Kiffin? Honesty, what has he accomplished. Al Davis has always gone his own way. So his hiring of Kiffin was just chalked up as Al just being Al. But then Tennessee turns around and hires a guy who just finished posting a 5-15 NFL record and has no college record. Yes he was a big time recruiter at USC and offensive coordinator before going to the NFL, but he sure seems like a reach to me for an SEC school with a rich football tradition. And why is USC hiring a guy with questionable recruiting practices just one month before heading into an inquiry of alleged recruiting violations? What kind of message does that send?
What does this do to Tennessee and all the recruits committed to the Vols and Kiffin? Kiffin made promises to those kids. Where is his commitment to them? A couple of big name players have already decommitted. The national signing day comes up next month. We'll see how many jump ship then.
Kiffin is playing the coaching game and playing it well. He did have to pay Tennessee an $800,000 buyout. But why on earth are university presidents and athletic directors giving contracts with buyouts after one year? How about you sign a 6 year deal you get a buyout after 3 or 4 years. Most programs don't fire a coach after just one year. And even if they do they still pay him.
I don't know if Kiffin is a good college coach. No one does. I guess we'll start to find out next season. But until the universities stop giving contracts with immediate buyouts, the Lane Kiffins of the world will continue to snake their way through the coaching ranks. And that's a problem for college football.