Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s an old saying, but it’s true, especially in the case of Tennessee football. Sometimes one becomes so desperate to change his situation that he ignores all the signs around him warning of impending danger. And right now, Tennessee is headed for parts unknown.
Tennessee, you have handed the keys of your football program to a child. The “Boy Blunder” has your keys and is running red lights and bumping into things at every turn. Sooner than later, you’re going to get the bill for his mistakes, and I don’t think you’re going to be ready to pay.
Let’s face it, UT football was once a power. The Vols had a firm grip on their place in the SEC, and it was a given that if they made it past Florida each year they’d find themselves in Atlanta. There was a time when I couldn’t stand the sound of Rocky Top because going to a UT-Bama game meant you were going to hear it a dozen times or more. Tennessee was somehow going to come through with the seemingly unending stream of talent on their sidelines. Now, in the three of the last four UT-Bama games I’ve attended, I honestly don’t remember Rocky Top being played. That’s not a joke or a punchline. Just a fact.
In light of their fall, Tennessee was desperate. They needed a change. They needed a shot in the arm to take them back to the glory days. They needed fresh ideas, a fresh start and some fresh faces to right the sinking orange ship. So they set their sights high. They pulled out all the stops. They made a commitment to “never go hungry again” (Gone With The Wind reference)…and hired Lane Kiffin.
When he was hired, immediately the sound of heads being scratched could be heard from sea to shining sea. 33, inexperienced, and his only stint as a head coach a 5-15 free-for-all where he was ousted after the fourth game of the 2008 NFL season. With that inexperience has come a rather shocking public display of stupidity. He took a coach in the middle of a season from the Raiders, a coaching fraternity no-no. He hired coaches from South Carolina, Alabama and Auburn then bragged about it in the media…though one of those coaches was already unemployed while another was running from a woman scorned. Then travesty of travesties, he called out two-time and current national champion Urban Meyer for cheating without bothering to dust off the ‘ole rule book to make sure he knew what he was talking about. Later, from the same microphone, he gives Lance Thompson credit for “signing” eight players in Alabama’s top class, though Thompson slipped out the back a few weeks prior to signing day.
Then to add even more stupidity to injury, Kiffin hands over the hot mic where Lance personifies why Coach Saban didn’t let him speak to the media. In WWE fashion, Thompson assures the crowd that Tennessee “is gonna own Memphis!”, and implies that Saban “ain’t gettin’ anybody else out of Tennessee!” You cannot dream up a better response to the Thompson/Kiffin gauntlet being laid down than Memphis native and Tennessee (among many others) target Keiwone Malone hours later (not days) becoming Alabama’s first verbal commitment to its 2010 class.
Tennessee fans, the Kid Blunder hasn’t coached a single off-season drill and already he is making Phillip Fulmer look like Copernicus. And yet predictably, instead of outrage over their green coach being publicly reprimanded by the SEC and anyone else with a brain, Tennessee fans are looking for any silver lining they can find to assure themselves that their football program hasn’t done legitimately to itself what Fulmer tried to illegitimately do to Alabama. Like in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, the orange faithful are standing around talking about the courage of their new leader when his idiocy and unbridled ignorance is standing before the rest of us as naked as can be. As Stephen Hargis of the Chattanooga Free Press writes:
â€œBut while it was a stupid thing for Kiffin to say, you have to like the moxie behind it and every other verbal grenade he has tossed at the rest of the SECâ€¦You think a few cocky high school recruits don’t take notice when he says things?”
That’s right Stephen. Tell the Vol faithful that Kiffin has clothes on. Sell papers. But cocky high school recruits with no discipline and no leadership is what sank Bama in the first part of this decade. Visit finebaum.com and listen to Paul’s account of when Matt Leinart told Kiffin to “shut the $#&@ up” during a team meating while Kiffin was an assistant coach at USC. Kiffin did shut the $#&@ up in response that day, but his lack of leadership, maturity and discipline spoke loud and clear.
In closing, we understand your plight, Tennessee. As Alabama fans, there was a day when Gene Stallings left us, and desperate to regain past glory, we too promoted someone not ready to be a head coach. We made up excuses. We strung together scenarios and false hope. We assured each other that he was ready. And four miserable years and a laundry list of unfathomable miscues later, we were worse off than before. Well have a nice ride. We’ll see you in T-town October 24th.