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Lane Kiffin… Now Hated By ALL SEC Fans

We won't have Lane Kiffin to kick around anymore (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

In December of 2008, Lane Kiffin was announced as the latest coach of the Tennessee Volunteers and subsequently became SEC Enemy #1 for 11 of the 12 member institutions’ fanbases. Hell, even the Tennessee fans were mixing their happiness with at least some level of trepidation due largely to Lane’s lack of experience, resume, or anything remotely resembling success.

Perhaps Kiffin’s hiring was a direct result of the season that Tennessee had just endured. Aside from losses, it was the bitter end to the Fulmer era, and this once proud program had more than its share of tarnish. Maybe they needed someone young. Maybe they needed someone brash. Maybe they needed someone who would skirt the occasional rule to get ahead. Regardless of whatever they needed that’s exactly what they got. All those things… and then some.

In record time it seemed, Kiffin had restored not only the success, but also the swagger to Tennessee. Perhaps it was the recruiting prowess of Ed Orgeron. Perhaps it was the defensive prowess of his father Monte, who turned UT’s defense into a respectable unit once again. And just as quickly as this Kiffin era started at Tennessee, it ends, as Kiffin accepts the head coaching position at USC and his number of SEC schools that hate is guts is now a perfect 12 for 12.

When Pete Carroll left USC this weekend, most believed it would be the first of many dominoes that would fall in the coaching world. USC, despite its lack of success in 2009, is still a premier program in FBS. But so is Tennessee. And these sort of lateral moves are a rarity in college football. Take a better job, and no one begrudges you. Take at best an equal job, after stirring up so much verbal doodie before you leave, and you are a borderline douchebag. Kiffin leaves a program where he could have been revered, where he could have competed for SEC titles year in and year out, and most shockingly, in the winter before a fall when most experts believe the SEC East will be lacking a front-runner.

Besides all of that, perhaps the one thing that would give some coaches pause before taking the head coaching gig in Los Angeles is the potential for NCAA sanctions thanks to Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush, and Joe McKnight. For Kiffin, dealing with the NCAA is nothing new and if the trend continues, this sort of thing was simply bound to happen at Tennessee. At least now Kiffin can get the LA exposure in advance of the probation.

Normally as a Kentucky fan, I wish ill on the Volunteers. However, this may be the worst case possible for a major football program. A coach leaves after most of the premier BCS level candidates (Brian Kelly, Charlie Strong, etc.) have already been hired, quits a few weeks before signing day, and takes his entire staff with him. Questions now abound like whether or not the class that Kiffin had crafted will stick with Tennessee, whether the current roster loses any talent because of transfer, and all the other things that accompany a coaching shift. The kicker is UT and athletic director Mike Hamilton have approximately 3 weeks to find a coach, save a class, and stop the bleeding. Good luck.

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