Friday, January 15, 2010

Kiffin Made the Right Move

Wednesday night Lane Kiffin took the USC job. He left Tennessee two weeks before signing day, after just one year on the job. Kiffin's hire came out of nowhere, but nobody seemed all that surprised after the fact. Kiffin was never linked to the USC job, and after five or six other coaches ultimately passed on going to USC, Kiffin was offered the job and he never looked back.

There's been a lot of debate over the last few days about what Kiffin did, and a lot of people feel he left Tennessee out to dry (he did), and that taking his third head coaching job in as many years is going to hurt his recruiting (it shouldn't). I certainly understand why people are upset about Kiffin leaving, but I have to say I don't agree with many writers who are claiming Kiffin's decision to go to USC shows his lack of character.

SI's Peter King has been tweeting about his opinions on it the last few days, and he thinks Kiffin deserves to be criticized. King argues that Kiffin was under contract, and he should have honored that contract. Certainly a valid point, but for the most part people get out of their contracts in every line of work if they receive a better offer. This is, in my opinion, Lane Kiffin's dream job. He's a 34-year-old head coach at arguably the best college football program in the country, and he's coached there before. If he passed on this offer because he was under contract with Tennessee, USC would have hired someone else and Kiffin's dream job would no longer be attainable.

King claims that if he had had a contract with Newsday when Sports Illustrated tried to sign him, he would have stayed with Newsday through his contract. I do believe Peter is telling the truth, but the situations are not entirely similar. First, it's doubtful that King's contract with Newsday would have been four or five years, and of course SI would be there to sign King in a few years. King also is already an accomplished writer, and his career path has been paved. It's easy to say you would have done things this way after so many things have worked out, but almost every American would leave their current job for their dream job if they could find a way to do it.

Kiffin deserves credit for being honest with the Tennessee AD. When Carroll left for Seattle, the AD asked Kiffin if USC called if he'd be interested in it, and Kiffin said flat out that he would be. After Kiffin decided to go to USC, the AD asked him if they could offer him a raise to keep him. Kiffin said it wasn't anything to do with money, it was simply the job offer. USC is his dream job, and he deserves credit for not simply using USC to squeeze more money out of Tennessee.

Kiffin is going to win. People may dislike the way he talks in the press, they may think he's an arrogant person, but the fact remains he understands the game and he's shown in just one year he and his staff can recruit with the best in the country. Add in the appeal of Southern California, and I do believe Kiffin will land consistent top-10 recruiting classes while he's there.

Tennessee fans have every right to be upset, as do the recruits that have already enrolled at Tennessee. Other than that, however, it's unfair to be upset at Lane Kiffin for doing what's best for him, something he's always wanted to do, and for upgrading his job. It's ultimately a promotion, and Kiffin isn't the first or last coach that will do this. Let's see if there's an uproar about Skip Holtz getting out of his contract at ECU to go to USF. I bet there isn't. If you want to criticize anyone or anything for the situation, criticize the NCAA for not having a better system. Coaches can leave whenever they want, but recruits who sign a LOI (Letter of Intent) are stuck there even after the coach leaves? It's unfair, and something needs to be done, but blaming Lane Kiffin won't fix the problem.