Maybe the right move was listening to Al Davis. As the Lane Kiffin-Oakland Raiders-Tennessee Vols shenanigans unfolded a little more than a year ago, Davis hammered his former coach and capped a public rant with telling words: “I picked the wrong guy.”
Now Davis can welcome Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton to his Kicked-aside-by-Kiffin club (time to make T-shirts, boys). And given Kiffin’s record, it might not be long before the decision-makers at Southern Cal sign up for membership, too.
In maybe the strangest move of this all-time strangest set of coaching moves, Vols coach Lane Kiffin on Tuesday agreed to take over at USC. For the umpteenth time in the past two years, Kiffin and controversy end up bedfellows. The lone question left is what in the name of Reggie Bush are the Trojans thinking.
A program in dire need of stability got maybe the most unstable guy in the profession. A program set to be slapped with NCAA sanctions hired a guy who racked up what seemed a decade’s worth of blatant secondary violations in one year at Tennessee.
USC lucked out nine years ago when, after getting shot down by at least three top coaches, it landed Pete Carroll. This time, after another round of rejections, the luck might have run out.
Maybe in five years, Kiffin will reign as the game’s dominant personality as his predecessor and mentor did. But with his baggage and inconsistency and lack of on-field success, Kiffin, at least in the short term, makes things worse for a program that needed a boost.
There’s something bigger here, too, and it touches every part of the college football. Long ago, this game became more about guys like Kiffin and less about the players under his tutelage. Long ago, money trumped talent and enthusiasm and certainly loyalty as the true fuel of the game. Recent weeks served as a reminder that of this: Too often, college football has nothing to do with either college or football.