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There Simply is No Basis for Believing Lane Kiffin Will Succeed

Senator Blutarsky doesn’t miss much, so, when he says he just doesn’t get it, you can bet it isn’t for lack of intellect or lack of effort. If he can’t make at least some semblance of sense out of what you’re saying and doing, there’s a pretty good chance your behavior is nonsensical. Brian Cook, who kept an open mind at first, agrees.

To his credit, CornFromAJar does the best he can with the meager material Lane Kiffin has given him:

Spurrier's cleverness is/was only apparent because he won games, something Kiffin hasn't had a chance to do yet. A comparison to the OBC is apt only because both Spurrier and Kiffin have a knack for spouting off. Though, if you notice, Spurrier only does so after the fact; I can't think of a single time Spurrier has run his mouth before putting a beatdown on someone, and "you can't spell Citrus..." only has punch if you're going to New Orleans on the regular. So, yeah, the preemptive bravado coming from Kiffin is something new. Does it mean Kiffin is less intelligent, less clever than Spurrier and others? Maybe, but I'm not sure that conclusion can be drawn yet, just as I can't claim Kiffin as a genius, either. At this point I believe the most that can be said is Kiffin shows extreme lack of judgement at worst and gross audacity at best, and we'll have to see how it all works out in a few years.

As to how it will all work out, of course I, like you, have no idea. Kiffin's recruiting machine seems to give Tennessee the chance to succeed but it's no guarantee. Kiffin could sabotage the whole thing with his tomfoolery, and if he does, what we'll be left with (to answer GtP's question) is a few dismal records in the media guide and another coaching search, probably preceded by a new athletic director. We've seen several of our SEC brethren go through the same and live, so that too shall pass if the need arises.

Here's the thing: I have no idea if Kiffin will succeed or fail, and that's what makes it fun. Tennessee football hasn't been particularly fun in the past several years. I don't mean the actual games, those are always fun, but the general aura around Vol football had been kind of a downer of late: the forecast for what turned out to be the final Fulmer years was mostly cloudy with a chance of Atlanta. And there's something comforting in meeting expectations, no matter how mediocre those expectations are. But what we're seeing now is that the unknown is exciting, maybe a little scary, possibly even embarrassing at times, but fun.

So you don't "get" what's going on in Knoxville? I don't either necessarily, and I don't really feel the need to. I'm just watching, with more interest than any other time in recent years, and waiting for what's next.

Senator Blutarsky credited CornFromAJar with authoring a "thoughtful and honest" response, but he had a follow-up question:

[I]f going in a radically different direction, and by that I mean ignoring convention and tradition to a significant extent, was the approach embraced by Hamilton from the start, why didn’t he talk seriously to somebody like Mike Leach who’s been very successful on the college level? Leach (who has an SEC coaching background, unlike Junior) with some stellar recruiters could have been a force in the conference, could he not?

The Senator has gotten to the crux of the issue here. While I respect CornFromAJar’s need as a fan to defend what is increasingly clearly a highly dubious coaching hire by his favorite team---believe me; I spent five years as a Jim Donnan apologist, so I feel his pain---I don’t see where "fun" is much of an excuse.

When I was 20 years old, I remember thinking how boring Vince Dooley’s brand of football was. It was dull because it was so predictable. We always knew Georgia was going to run the ball. We always knew Georgia was going to play stout defense and keep the score low. We always knew Georgia was going to beat Kentucky and Vanderbilt. We always knew Georgia was a better bet than not to beat Florida and Georgia Tech. We always knew Georgia was going to a bowl game.

By the time I was 30, I was tired of the excitement generated by pass-happy offenses, overworked defenses, scoring four touchdowns in a loss, considering the Kentucky and Vanderbilt games toss-ups, and uncertainty regarding the postseason. Now, at 40, when I say Mark Richt is a boring coach, I am paying him a high compliment. Ain’t nothing more fun than a W.

If Lane Kiffin wants to be an entertainer, he should consider becoming a lounge singer. (Admit it; you have absolutely no difficulty conjuring up that image, do you? Shouldn’t that tell you something?) In his present line of work, his job is to win football games. I don’t care how much buzz he generates around the Volunteer program by acting like a ninny with a company credit card and no conception of consequences; once he gets done dancing around the living room in his underwear, he’s going to have to answer to a responsible adult for the preponderance of bass apparent on the stereo.

Sometimes you have to say, "What the . . . ?"

Is it fair for CornFromAJar to claim that he has no idea whether Lane Kiffin will succeed or fail? I will grant that none of us knows for certain, but surely we have some idea, don’t we? A 5-15 record as a head coach may not be definitive, but it isn’t irrelevant, is it?

I’m not going to quarrel with the notion that hiring an unknown quantity can work out in the end. Hiring the 31-year-old coach of the Auburn freshman team was a bold move on Joel Eaves’s part in 1963, one that no one thought would produce 201 wins over the next 25 years, but it did exactly that. Even Eaves, though, had something to go on, having previously crossed paths with the young Vince Dooley on the Plains.

At a minimum, shouldn’t there be some legitimate basis for believing a guy can coach? Steve Spurrier won an A.C.C. championship at Duke and Urban Meyer led Utah to an undefeated season before either of them got the call from Gainesville. Les Miles upended Oklahoma twice ere he was hired in Baton Rouge. Jim Tressel worked out a good deal better than Jim Donnan, but at least both men had Division I-AA national championships on their resumes. Bob Stoops worked out a good deal better than Mike Stoops, but at least both men had established track records as defensive coordinators.

What, precisely, does Lane Kiffin bring to the table as a head coach? If your answer is recruiting, you’re well on your way to losing an argument. Plenty of good recruiters have made lousy head coaches; Ray Goff and Ron Zook spring immediately to mind. Absolutely nothing in Lane Kiffin’s resume, before his hiring or since, suggests that he is up to the task before him. If what he’s bringing the Tennessee fan base is fun, I wish them well; when the fun part of football is the offseason, you’re in for a long fall.

Go ‘Dawgs!