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Lane Kiffin fits the Vols and the SEC

Posted: Dec 30, 2008

Tribal Fever did a great job of presenting the challenge that is coaching in the 21st century SEC. I wanted to focus on the Tennessee job where Phil Fulmer had quite a run, but missing a bowl game in two out of four seasons meant it was time for a change. The program that used to send the likes of Peyton Manning, Jamal Lewis, Al Wilson, Albert Haynesworth, John Henderson, and Jason Witten (all Pro Bowlers) to the NFL has had a shortage of “first-round” talent over the last few years. Athletic director Mike Hamilton knew he had to find a coach who could get Tennessee back to recruiting the way they did under Fulmer in the ‘90s. There was no “natural fit” for the next head coach so the choice of a young, energetic Lane Kiffin seems to make a lot of sense. Kiffin recruited nationally at USC so he knows how to go into every state to bring in the type of talent that is required to compete with Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. Those three SEC stalwarts are on the Vols schedule every season, and they have a natural in-state recruiting advantage over Tennessee.

Kiffin’s experience at USC and youth should be huge assets in Knoxville. He and his staff will have to work tirelessly to keep with the “Jones” on their always-difficult schedule. Another factor that the Tennessee administration liked about Kiffin was the ability to bring in a top-notch coaching staff. Obviously that starts with his father, legendary NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Another key cog to the Kiffin plan is the pursuit of former Ole Miss head Coach Ed Orgeron, currently with the New Orleans Saints. Coach “O” is known as a top recruiter in the South (as chronicled in the book “Meat Market”) and could really put the staff over the top. Also, look for Florida wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, Billy Gonzales, to hear from Kiffin when the national title game is over. If Kiffin can put together an all-star staff of recruiters to come and play for he and his father, the Tennessee program can get back to the top of the SEC food chain sooner rather that later.

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