The temptation is to keep my mouth shut. The temptation is to let this happen without a single word of warning, and then when it does happen, to open my mouth. But only after the fact. And then, only to laugh.
To laugh at you, Clemson.
Or at you, Tennessee.
|Kiffin did little in Oakland. Why would college be different? (Getty Images)|
Kiffin might be a nice guy, and just a few weeks ago it was me who came to his defense in his unseemly war with that spiteful ogre who runs the Raiders. But Kiffin as the hottest coaching candidate on the college football circuit this offseason?
What a sad turn of events this is for college football. Four years ago, the hot young star was Urban Meyer. Notre Dame wanted him. Florida got him. And within two years Florida won a national title.
Two years ago it was Butch Davis. North Carolina was so eager to get him, the Tar Heels fired John Bunting in midseason just so they would feel OK to talk to Davis. Within two years, UNC has gone from 3-9 under Bunting to 5-2 with Davis.
Now the golden boy is Kiffin.
The temptation, as I've said, is to sit back and let it happen. Let Clemson and its good ol' athletic director and its quarterback's daddy run off Tommy Bowden just so they can give themselves to Kiffin.
Or let Tennessee fire Phillip Fulmer, with his national title ring and his two SEC championship rings and his 10-win season as recently as 2007. (Let's not pretend Tennessee would fire Fulmer because his players are Class-A cretins. Tennessee didn't care about that when he was 10-4, and Tennessee doesn't care now that he's 3-4.) Let the Vols, who are idiots anyway for taking men's basketball advice from the Pump brothers, cut loose Fulmer and hire Kiffin.
And then in three years, I'll laugh. Because it will be funny when Kiffin runs a program so far into the ground, its new school color will be magma.
But no. Today it feels better to help than to hurt, so today I will help Clemson and Tennessee and Syracuse -- well, maybe Syracuse can't do any better than Kiffin -- by telling them to kindly, but swiftly, pull your head out of your ass and understand who Kiffin is. And who he is not.
Who he is: A terrible NFL head coach. Bill Callahan, not Bill Cowher. True, the Raiders are poisonous. But Kiffin didn't do anything to make them better. The Raiders sucked before he got there, and the Raiders sucked while he was there, and the Raiders suck now that he's gone. Kiffin had no impact. Zero.
So if Kiffin's time with the Raiders was a complete zero, who else is he? He's a former offensive coordinator at the most talented program in college football. That's all he is, and if that sounds flippant, good. I love it when my tone reflects my intent.
Kiffin was offensive coordinator for two years at Southern California, and the first of those years (2005) he had Matt Leinart at quarterback, Reggie Bush and LenDale White at running back and Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith at receiver. Bill Callahan couldn't have screwed that up, for God's sake. Kiffin's next year as offensive coordinator was similarly loaded, and anyway, by then he was splitting duties with quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian, not to mention with head coach Pete Carroll.
A quick scan of the rosters at Clemson and Tennessee doesn't show anyone like Leinart, Bush or White. Or like Jarrett or Steve Smith, either. Clemson and Tennessee don't even have John David Booty.
But fans of both schools -- and athletic directors of both schools, I'm guessing -- are hot for Kiffin. Why? Because he has name value. You've heard of Kiffin. Your friends have heard of Kiffin. The school that hires him will, as the saying goes, win the press conference.
And then lose the games.
Because it says here that Kiffin, for all his whiz-kid looks, is more Wonder bread than wonder boy. His best breaks in the coaching business came because his dad, longtime NFL assistant coach Monte Kiffin, called in some favors. One of those favors was at USC, where Lane got on board thanks to Daddy and then helped win with Carroll's players because losing with Carroll's players, in that conference, was impossible.
Lane Kiffin then flopped at Oakland -- after being the Raiders' second choice from Carroll's staff, behind Sarkisian, by the way -- because he wasn't good enough to overcome deranged Al Davis.
Look at that résumé, and tell me where it says -- or even suggests -- that Kiffin will win enough at Clemson or Tennessee to keep those lunatics happy. Bowden went 72-45 at Clemson. Fulmer is 150-49 at Tennessee.
Kiffin is going to top either of those records at either of those schools?
I'm done writing. I'm now laughing.