Commentary by Joe Biddle: On Kiffin and Karma
By Joe Biddle, Columnist
Well, I hope Lane Kiffin learned his lesson.
You don’t turn your back on Tennessee fans. They revel in revenge.
How’s that dream job working out Lane? I would ask you to call me, but you left your cellphone on the charter flight and USC officials would not allow you to retrieve it in the wee hours Sunday morning.
After all the cellphone belonged to Southern Cal. You are no longer their football coach.
I’m still trying to figure out how you got three of football’s most high profile jobs.
At the tender age of 31, the late Al Davis hired you as head coach of the Raiders. No one gets an NFL job at 31. I suspect if you were Lane Smith, you would not have had a shot. But you have been living off your father’s name for years. Monte Kiffin is one of the most respected football coaches in the country.
Davis fired you the next year. It wasn’t a pleasant divorce. Davis called you a liar and a disgrace. The truth hurts.
Then AD Mike Hamilton hired you as Tennessee’s football coach in 2008. His decision eventually played a major role in Hamilton losing his job.
It would be a rebuilding job, one that required patience and perseverance. You possessed neither.
When Southern Cal called, you couldn’t wait to get back home. It was your alma mater and you would never get another opportunity to be the Trojans’ head coach.
So you flew the coop, trashing Tennessee on the way out by eventually getting the Vols placed on NCAA sanctions for a number of violations.
You used attractive co-eds to help land high profile recruits. One Orange Pride escort landed the No. 1 recruit in the country in Bryce Brown, who showed no interest in Tennessee until he took an official visit.
But after a 7-6 season, you were off to sunny California, living on the beach, watching spectacular sunsets, making $4 million a year. At 38 years old, you were living the dream.
You ran into previous sanctions at Southern Cal. But if there is any school that can survive limited scholarships, it is USC. A coach only needs a full tank of gas to recruit enough 4- and 5-star football prospects to field a competitive team. It is a storied program with a number of national championship and Heisman Trophy winners.
Yet you leave Southern Cal after being boat-raced by Arizona State, your defense giving up 62 points. It was then that Athletics Director Pat Haden had seen enough. He pulled the plug.
Your once bright and shining star is tarnished. You will have a hard time getting any head-coaching job now.
As for Haden, he must find your replacement. Names quickly started coming out of the woodwork.
Inside USC, a blog for Trojans sports, came out with a numerical list of its most likely candidates.
Vanderbilt’s James Franklin led the list. Franklin is a monster recruiter. He never met a stranger. Fans are drawn to him like moths to a flame. He cannot only coach, he can promote the program with a tireless work ethic.
If Franklin can do what he has done at Vanderbilt with its obvious handicaps, imagine what he could do at USC with all its advantages. He changed a culture that had been dying on the vine for years. He could infuse instant optimism at USC.
Unlike Lane Kiffin, James Franklin is a winner.
Posted on: 10/3/2013