What Lane Kiffin Wishes He Said

New USC head football coach Lane Kiffin has taken a lot of abuse over his departure from Tennessee. In an NPI exclusive, Kiffin told us he was really torn up about the criticism, and that he wishes he could have done the noble thing and told the Trojans’ brass the following (verbatim):

Look, I’m honored, USC. You guys gave me my first legit job in football, and it’s on the strength of my work with you that I was hired not only for the Raiders’ job but also at Tennessee (because, I mean, who would hire me based on what happened in Oakland? Did you SEE that professionally presented Powerpoint? Or what Art Shell did before me and Tom Cable after me? Al Davis was right: I was the disgrace.). It’s here that I should apologize for my woeful lack of credentials; I was pretty surprised you’re even considering me after I went 5-15 with the Raiders and 7-6 at Tennessee. It’s not like I’ve proven I can recruit or anything, and I certainly don’t have the sparkling resume Pete Carroll brought in here, particularly on the college level. I know that most 34-year-olds have accomplished more than me, and quite frankly, you probably shouldn’t have even offered me the job.

I know that Southern California is one of the few schools that has a better football tradition than Tennessee. You guys have won several national titles, even in the last decade, and you’ve got like a boatload of Heisman winners, not to mention the Song Girls. Plus, you’re in Los Angeles, which I know from experience is even nicer than Knoxville, which is so nice I even named my son after it. I even know that you’re gonna offer me more money in this better location to have a better job. That’s really cool of you.

But here’s the thing: I like gave my word. I told the people of Tennessee that I was really happy there and I started all these rivalries and recruited a bunch of kids to go to school there simply because I was gonna be the coach. You guys might not know this, but in college football, word is bond. You’re only as good as your word. High school kids don’t even sign letters of intent anymore; it’s all about verbal commitments. And let’s face it: If I leave now, even for more money in a better location with a better chance to win now at the place that gave me my start, I’m going to be abandoning all these fans and kids. What kind of monster leaves a job for another, better job well before he’s established himself at the first job? It would be doing such a disservice to all the kids who wanted to experience the University of Tennessee but won’t be able to if I personally am not their head football coach.

Now, if I had come in and been less excited about coaching Tennessee, and been all like “Yeah, ‘Rocky Top’ is cool but ‘Fight On’ is probably better,” and maybe decided to recruit second-rate guys just in case the only job that made logical sense for me to jump to opened up (you know, so I didn’t get all these nice Tennessee folks riled up for nothing), maybe this could have worked out. It probably would have been easier if I hadn’t been so brash at the start; nobody likes a brash first-year head coach, am I right? Or maybe if I had been here for a few more years and really sunk my teeth in and named multiple children after proximate locations and committed myself even more to the University and had several years’ worth of recruits looking forward to coming here to play for me—in other words, if I had really shown myself committed over the long-haul to the University of Tennessee—then it probably would have been easier for me to jump ship to SoCal. As we both know, the most traitorous thing anyone can do is leave the place he just got to. It would be far classier for me to turn this opportunity down, wait a few more seasons, win a few more games, make a few more promises, hope you guys screw up who you hire now and fire him in three or four years, curse about your program on national television, and then gladly take your job. I’d alienate a lot less people that way.

And you know how it is in the SEC: This crap only works one way, man. Saban, Petrino, you know how it goes. But it is true: Me leaving Tennessee now would be so much worse than what those guys did; it would probably be the most heinous thing a coach has ever done. You see, Nicky was smart about it: He made sure the Dolphins were in great shape before he left, and Bobby had the decency to do his introductory press conference after all his players had gone to bed. Furthermore, if I were to leave Tennessee, it would be as if I locked all of my players and recruits in a shed for an hour or two or physically confronted them all and interfered in the ensuing investigation or made ethnically insensitive remarks about all their upbringings. Repeat: it would be the scummiest thing a college football coach could even conceive of doing.

(And that doesn’t even mention all the secondary recruiting violations I have going on here at Tennessee. How dishonorable would it be for me to leave a school in minor disrepute to go to another school? I can’t imagine another coach in any sport low enough to do that, and certainly not twice.)

I mean, if I were to leave, UT’s probably gonna call up David Cutcliffe at Duke and try to get him to come back to the place where he worked for a long time at a better football school for more money just two years after he started his big rebuilding project. And that wouldn’t be a problem, because Duke sucks and this is the SEC and Cutcliffe is a pretty nice guy who’s been there TWO years.

They don’t have to worry about that in Durham, though, because none of this is gonna go down. And that’s because I can’t stand the thought of all those people in Knoxville turning on me. I’m a college football coach (i.e. a role model, a beacon of hope, and a bastion of integrity in a world gone mad), and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I’m Lane Kiffin, and if I’m about one thing, it’s this: integrity.

So thanks, but no thanks.

One response to this post.

  1. Two thoughts: 1. why do you make Lane Kiffin sound like a teenage girl?, and 2. wow! Layla Kiffin!! I never noticed! Too bad song girl tryouts have already been held… 😦


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