No kidding, Tony Barnhart, it looks like Lane Kiffin will be the next head coach for Tennessee's football program. Kiffin has no previous ties to Knoxville or the South, other than a brief stint as an NFL underling for the Jaguars. He's been known as a solid offensive coordinator at USC, a good recruiter, and the son of Monte Kiffin, NFL defensive wizard. Kiffin is better known nationally as the boy that Al Davis hired to coach the Raiders in 2007. Davis fired him four games into the 2008 season after 20 games. Kiffin will be the youngest head coach in the FBS. (Image: USC)
Most of the reports I've seen don't necessarily hype up Kiffin, but instead hype up the staff he could build. The first name mentioned is dear old dad, Monte. Kiffin the Elder is now the defensive coordinator at Tampa Bay, where he invented the Tampa 2 defense and rode it to a Super Bowl win. He is considered by many as one of the best defensive coordiantors in football. He'd be a very formidable presence in the SEC.
The other name consistently mentioned is Ed Orgeron, former Ole Miss head coach and current Saints assistant. The two coached together at USC and Kiffin took over the recruiting coordinator slot on that staff when Orgeron left for Oxford. Coach O might be a goofball and the punchline to a lot of jokes, but he can recruit. Just watch Ole Miss.
This is a a potential home run for UT and way better than the end I had foreseen. They just seemed destined for disappointment. Give some credit to Mike Hamilton for coming through with a hot name before the season is even over. If, and it's a big if, Monte and Coach O join the staff, Kiffin will have a powerful recruiter and a defensive X's and O's alchemist. Tennessee is the only traditional SEC power without a natural, native talent base to pull athletes from. Thus, UT has to recruit nationally. Kiffin has reeled in kids from all over the country at USC, so he's can attract elite athletes. Orgeron has proven he can sell Ole Miss to big recruits. Selling the Big Orange should be easier.
On the other hand, staffs are hardly ever composed of the first names floated. Kiffin's been a great recruiting coordinator, but it's easy to recruit to USC, where a kid can compete for a national title every year, hang out with Will Ferrell and Snoop Dog, and date a song girl. Is UT just as much of a national draw? Plus, the guy is ridiculously young. Is he ready for the intensity of SEC media, fanbases, and the other coaches in this league?
We'll find out what kind of recruiter Kiffin is quickly. Marlon Brown, the Memphis wideout, is down to us and UT by most accounts. The Vols were leading before Phillip got the ax. Brown was waiting to see who the new guy would be in Knoxville. I'd suppose Mr. Brown can expect some callers when the contact period begins tomorrow.