Kiffin bolts UT for Southern Cal

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 8:55pm
Staff Reports

University of Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is leaving the Volunteers after only one season to take the  head coaching job at the University of Southern California, the university's athletic director announced Tuesday night.

"We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC," said AD Mike Garrett, who was referring to Kiffin's stint as a member of USC's coaching staff from 2001-2006. "I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose. I'm confident he and his staff will keep USC football performing at the high level that we expect.

Garrett did not disclose any details about Kiffin's contract.

Kiffin, 34, would replace Pete Carroll, who left to join the NFL as coach of the Seattle Seahawks amid possible NCAA sanctions against USC.

Several other potential candidates declined to be considered, including Oregon State's Mike Riley and Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio. Titans' coach Jeff Fisher, like Del Rio a USC alum, also had his name mentioned as a possible successor to Carroll.

Kiffin, whose name made the rumor rounds all day Tuesday, went 7-6 in his only season in Knoxville, losing badly in the Chick-fil-A Bowl — 37-14 to Virginia Tech — on Dec. 31.

“I know that I can walk out of here and say this, that we’ve been here for 14 months and there’s not one day I didn’t give everything I had to the Tennessee football program,” Kiffin said on the UT campus during a news conference Tuesday night.

Kiffin said he only had one place he would have left Knoxville for — USC. He apparently owes UT an $800,000 buyout fee for leaving early. He told his players about his abrupt departure moments before reading his statement.

“This was not an easy decision,” he said. “We’ve been here 14 months, and the support has been unbelievable here."

His father, Monte Kiffin, an assistant coach at UT, is following his son to USC, as his Ed Orgeron, who also once served an assistant at USC.

Kiffin left USC to become head coach of the Oakland Raiders, and his time with the Raiders was tumultuous to say the least. The team struggled and he feuded with owner Al Davis, before being replaced four games into the 2008 season. He was hired by Tennessee later that year.

“I want to thank coach Kiffin for his work with our program this past year,” Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said. “We have already begun a search for the new head football coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, and we’ll complete this process as quickly as possible to put the right person in place to lead our great football program forward in the months and years ahead.”

Kiffin's stay at UT was a short and stormy one, raising the eyebrows of SEC counterparts with brash predictions of how quickly the Volunteers would return to contention. The football program came under more scrutiny in November when three of Kiffin’s prized recruits were arrested in connection with an armed robbery in Knoxville.

All three players were suspended from the team and two — Nu’Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards — were eventually dismissed by Kiffin. Richardson, on Monday pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted robbery.

21 Comments on this post:

By: TITAN1 on 1/12/10 at 8:01


By: wolfy on 1/12/10 at 8:21

And the recruiting vultures are circling already.

By: TitansFan035 on 1/13/10 at 7:23

Why are all you Pumpkin loving people so mad!!! I was more surprise when the pretty boy from Cali took the UT job... Once a Cali boy always a Cali boy!! Left Coast!!

By: shinestx on 1/13/10 at 8:12

Kiffin better be a fast study... as he's left a program where the fans were willing to give him a 2-3 year honeymoon to one that is already on top. He will be expected to win every single game from day 1. I can already hear the caterwauling when he loses his first game early in the season: "Why did our school hire that kid who has not even won 8 games?" Good thing he's being paid a lot (at least we presume that's the case at USC)... and good thing he's used to moving around. He won't be a USC long either. He doesn't have the toughness to weather the heat he'll see at USC. Have you guys read their blogs? Theire lukewarm to Laney boy... they're pretty excited about his dad and orgeron. But orgeron will not stay with Kiffin for a long time (he's got to be ticked by being passed over for this kid). Time to move on UT... and get someone who can bring energy AND TALENT to the program.

By: Alphadog7 on 1/13/10 at 8:24

Kiffin is facing an uphill battle. I think Carroll saw the writing on the wall, USC is in decline, recruiting is down a bit, they aren't able to win the big games, and they are facing possible NCAA investigations and penalties. I predict UT will return to the Top 5 before USC does, so forget Kiffin, who is going to replace him?

By: shinestx on 1/13/10 at 8:35

Go read the USC blogs... they're not fans of Kiffin. They wanted a proven winner, and while the like the recruiting bonus, they're skeptical of LK's record (as they should be).

By: jwk6179 on 1/13/10 at 8:47

Maybe AL DAVIS isn't as CRAZY and SENILE as EVERYONE thinks he is!!!

By: richgoose on 1/13/10 at 9:11

It amazes me that people are not pointing to the person who created this "nightmare on the hill". That person is Mike Hamilton. I have nothing against Kiffin as a coach or that he is going back to where he is comfortable.

Lane Kiffin had about as much compatibility with the Tennessee program and the SEC as a moth to a flame.

By: jwk6179 on 1/13/10 at 9:17

With Lane Kiffen leaving Tennessee for USC as quick and in the manner that he did, HE just gave CREDIBILITY to Al Davis' words of warning to UT!!! And this is coming from a life-long UT fan and Alumni.

By: shinestx on 1/13/10 at 9:22

Guys, c'mon!! It's Lane Kiffin we're talking about... not Saban, Meyer, or Brown. Geez, people! Kiffin will be proved as a mediocre coach (at best) at USC, and even worse when it comes down to public relations. By leaving UT, Kiffin gave up an opportunity to grow into a real head coach who does not need his superstar staff around him for credibility. Orgeron will leave USC after 2-3 seasons, and daddy, Monte will retire in five years. I predict LK will be too proud to be an assistant in college in five years... and he'll eventually become a lower level NFL assistant journeyman for the rest of his career. He rose too fast, and burned too many bridges.

Go check out USC football fan blogs and you'll see they are not excited about Lane's return. They do like his two star assistants, but that's not the meaning of a "head coach".

By: shinestx on 1/13/10 at 9:24

Finally, all you folks who are still crying for Fill-up Foolmore need to move on! Even the most rock-ribbed fans remember how slovenly the program had become under PF. Sure, a very nice guy... but the conference had changed, and so much else. So let's move on, unified and looking forward to a new challenge to overcome.

By: BigPapa on 1/13/10 at 9:34

Kiffin had more NCAA violations than wins at UT. I hope UT can at least get someone with more class this next hire.

By: TITAN1 on 1/13/10 at 9:36

jw, I know you and I do not agree often, but that is exactly what I told my wife last night. Al Davis may not have been the problem after all. Being a Vandy fan first but pulling for UT unless they play Vandy or a middle Tennessee team, I said when they fired Fulmer I thought it was a mistake because of his record and success. I now think it was also a mistake because of the love he has for that university. I'm no expert, but I think it would be cool if UT fired Hamilton and hired a new AD and tell him his first job is to bring back Fulmer. I know it probably won't happen because that would be swallowing a lot of pride. JMHO.

By: damons on 1/13/10 at 9:45

Kiffin didn't like the snow and cold. He wanted to be able to go to the beach again. Sorry Tennessee!

By: volstreet on 1/13/10 at 10:15

Well maybe Layla can get a little red dress to match the one she wore to the Florida game!Ok Butch Davis,Will Muschamp,David Cutcliff,Are all popular topics around here but what about someone like Tyrone Willingham at Washington or even Herm Edwards. Not because of race but because of their great ethics that UT desprately needs to get back to !!

By: jwk6179 on 1/13/10 at 10:27

Why not take it step further and bring TONY DUNGY as head coach. He's a MAN OF GREAT ETHICS and INTEGRITY!! And a Pretty good coach on top of that.

By: gdiafante on 1/13/10 at 11:00

Why the hell would Dungy take the UT position? If you're going to blindly throw out names, why not say Bill

By: volstreet on 1/13/10 at 11:03

Kippy could keep the ship afloat if he just find a great defensive guy to join him

By: cmarcus45 on 1/13/10 at 1:05

I'm an anti-UT guy and I hate to see Kiffin go. He gave UT an irreplacable sense of lunacy and unjustified arrogance. I hope the University replaces him with just as big of a joke. He might do mediocre-to-well in the Pac-10, but he was not an SEC guy. To me, the greatest accomplishment under his reign at UT was pulling out the orange and black uniforms on Halloween - I must say that was pretty cool.

By: BigPapa on 1/13/10 at 1:39

To hear UT folks they should hire Gruden as Head Coach, Dungy as Off Cordinator, Cower as Def corordinator, Nick Saban as LB coach, Jimmy Johnson as Def backs coach, ... 'cause they're ALL slobbering all over themselves to come to Knoxville.

By: B. C. Powder on 1/13/10 at 7:40

It was the wife .... if you were the coach's little Mrs, and looked like the little Mrs. does - would you want to live in Knoxville or Los Angeles? There you have it.