Tennessee Makes a Bad Choice

Tennessee has been playing football since 1891. It has 776 wins in its glorious history, ninth all-time among 1-A teams.

It has won 13 SEC titles and four national titles. After, Alabama, it is the second-greatest tradition in the South.

And now, it is getting ready to hire as its coach a guy whose sole head coaching experience was with the sinking ship known as the Oakland Raiders.

Never mind that Lane Kiffin has never been a college football head coach. Never mind that in his only stint as a pro head coach, he went 5-15. Never mind that the only reason he took the Oakland job was to gain enough credibility to be seen as a legitimate candidate elsewhere (and to pull down a nice fat paycheck). Never mind that he’s never accomplished anything in his coaching career without the considerable help and influence of his father, Monte, and his godfather, Pete Carroll. (Surprise, Monte is going to come to Knoxville to hold his hand)

Never mind that he has no connections to the SEC, or that the offense he runs is more suited for the pro game than the college game, or that his abrasive personality has made him a much-despised figure wherever he has gone. Never mind that, despite the hype to the contrary, he is a horrible recruiter. Never mind that out of all the bright young minds in the college game, he doesn’t even register as a blip on the radar (hullo?  What about Major Applewhite or Gus Malzahn?).  Never mind that his prickly personality will not mesh with the warm, gregarious tradition of Southern hospitality. Never mind that he has never had to do the things that head coaches have to do everywhere, but even more so in the South–deal with alumni, relate to boosters, fire up the grass roots and all the other necessary little things in a region where football is a way of life.

Never mind all that. The guy is 33 years old. If you are going to hire a 33-year old as your head coach in the SEC, he’d better be a whiz kid. He’d better not be a guy whose career was borne on the wings of nepotism, family connections and a sense of entitlement.  He’d better be a guy who is familiar with the SEC from top to bottom. He’d better be a guy who has an offense that actually works in college, not a clunky pro scheme of the type tried by the Callahans and Hacketts of days gone by. He’d better not be a guy whose main claim to fame was keeping Reggie Bush on the bench during the most critical play of his team’s season. He’d better not be a guy whose only clear attribute is that he was hated by Al Davis (who isn’t?).

This has to be one of the worst and most unjustifiable coaching hires I’ve ever seen in college football. Paul Hackett, Buddy Teevens or even Howard Schnellenberger circa 1995 would make more sense.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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