I warned you, Tennessee fans. I warned you. Told you he'd leave your program in worse shape than he found it. I just didn't expect that he'd do it in a year's time.
You told me to give him time, that there would be a turnaround in Knoxville. Well he sure enough turned around, didn't he?
Every unlikeable quality Kiffin possesses, from his immaturity to his caginess to his undeserved sense of entitlement, has come back to bite the Vols sooner than anyone could have expected. Everyone of those qualities was manifest in his spur-of-the-moment decision to leave Knoxville after just one season and take the head coaching gig at Southern California.
Who's dumber here? USC, for dumpster-diving in the wake of Pete Carroll's bolt to the NFL? Or Kiffin, who is leaving a top-notch football school in the game's premier conference for a reeling program that is certain to be saddled with significant NCAA sanctions in the very near future? At the onset, both appear to have made equally terrible decisions.
In the hours following this unexpected bombshell, there are more questions than answers:
Why couldn't USC lure a more established coach to lead their program? Are the impending sanctions expected to be that serious? For goodness sakes, Jack Del Rio (who's piloting a modern-day Lusitania in Jacksonville) turned it down. He'd rather be unemployed. Mike Riley turned it down. He'd rather remain obscure.
What is the allure of Lane Kiffin? He wasn't the sole pilot of USC's early-decade offensive juggernaut; Carroll and Steve Sarkisian each earned a share of that success. He was an abject failure in Oakland (but then again, who hasn't been since the days of Jon Gruden?) And although he had taken a handful of positive steps during his brief time in Knoxville, he also frequently embarrassed himself and his program by incessantly flapping his yap and offending SEC power-brokers. In effect, he established himself as the Joe Biden of the coaching community. Is his resume really worthy of a job like USC?
And what happens to the Tennessee football program now? With signing day just weeks away, recruits have been left in the lurch. The coaching carousel has all but stopped spinning. Who will Tennessee target to take the reins of their program? Jon Gruden? Jeff Fisher? You tell me. Who's out there?
One thing is for sure, though: I'll miss my column - the last one hits the street on Jan. 14 - but it wouldn't have been the same without Kiffin in Knoxville. Maybe I'm getting out at the right time after all...