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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The Gunslinger
When Lane Kiffin was hired at Tennessee, one of the many things I heard him called was a new, young gun for hire. Kiffin was looking for his chance to make his mark in coaching after doing some good work with Pete Caroll at USC and a disastrous run with the Oakland Raiders.

So, he came to the Vols after the unceremonious dumping of Phil Fulmer. And he seemed to say all the right things like that he wanted to be here a while and that he looked forward to beating Florida.

I guess we should have known better. The problem with a young gun for hire is that they can and will leave you in the lurch to go to the next highest bidder.

And that's what we've seen happen with Kiffin.

I feel jilted by Kiffin and his staff, especially when I hear reports that Ed Orgeron is encouraging freshmen recruits to not go to class so they can follow them to USC. Is this really fair? I know that this kind of thing happens and that players can and will follow coaches. But was UT just some kind of minor league system to these guys where they recruited and tried to implement a new system only to take their toys and go home when something better comes along.

A couple of years ago, I had a friend who lamented that she had a pattern when it came to dating--she'd date a guy and they'd go their separate ways only to have said guy marry the girl-after-her. In a way, I feel like this is what Kiffin and company have done to UT.

I understand Kiffin wanting to go back to USC and reassemble the band for a reunion tour. I suppose I could eventually get past my anger at him for treating UT this way. But the way in which he's taking his entire staff and seems to be gutting the program only reinforces my initial reaction which is to hope the guy never wins another game, that he's an utter failure at USC and that he's fired within a year to never, ever coach again anywhere. I'd wish a pox upon him, but honestly that seems too good right now. Maybe a really virulent strain of the swine flu could set up shop among he and his staff and those players who leave with him.

On a related note, this could be the beginning of the end for athletic director Mike Hamilton. Hamilton used a lot of his reserve clout with booster and the athletic department to oust Fulmer and install his new guy here. And now, his new guy has up and bolted. This doesn't reflect well on Hamilton and given how the program looks like it could be gutted and that we're left with our pants down, I have a feeling that when the dust settles, a lot of blame will (rightly) come to rest at Hamilton's doorstep. I predict that within two to five years, the fallout from this will lead to Hamilton's resignation or termination.

For now, let me say I again that this reinforces my hatred for USC (they now jump up into the same level of hatred I reserve for the Cowboys, Florida, Georgia and Alabama) and that I wish nothing but the worst for Kiffin and company as they leave.

I hope we meet in a bowl game in the near future and we kick your ass from start to finish.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/13/2010 05:56:00 AM | |
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