Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wishing Kiffin Well, Tennessee Football Better

OK, I'm going to say this and see if I can believe it:

Losing Lane Kiffin is not a disaster for the University of Tennessee's football team. It has the facilities, tradition, fan support, stadium and money to hire well.

I wouldn't count the Vols out before we even know who's coming in (Will Mushcamp of Texas, John Grudin, David Cutcliff of Duke, Petersen of Boise, Whittingham, Sarkisian, Bellotti, Mike Riley, Randy Edsall, Tom O'Brien, Paul Johnson, Mullen and a bunch of first-line offensive and defensive coordinators, pro and college--I won't even say Leach or Leavitt--all potentials given the level of the job).

We aren't even sure Kiffin can be successful over the long haul. He was barely over .500 at UT (losing at least three games he could have, maybe should have won) and his pro record is below .500. Southern Cal went through an entire litany of names before getting to Kiffin and they didn't want the job (good possibility of probation coming on).

You can't blame Kiffin and I don't. Southern California is home for him. The program is glamorous and is in Los Angeles, which some consider the center of the civilized universe (they're wrong; I lived near there and you can take my word for it). But he's gone and somebody else will take over with a lot of hope, a lot of ideas and a great deal of energy.

Right now it feels like a young and favored wife has walked out on us for a pretty-boy (and I can tell you I know exactly what that feels like). In a few weeks we may be feeling sorry for him and happy for ourselves (I know that feeling, too). Let's just wait and see. Tough, stomach-in-knots time for the Vol faithful right now, but remember, just four years ago Alabama's program looked like it had settled in at the bottom for good.

I wish Kiffin well. And I wish Vol Athletic Director Mike Hamilton a good night's sleep, because he has some work to do.

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