One Shot at a Long Leash, or Take Ms. Frizzle’s Advice
Last evening as I was about to leave work, I decided to email Eric Angevine, a freelance writer who wrote a very fine piece for ESPN.com back in November 2009 titled Neyland Stadium – The Color Orange. It was so good, in fact, that I posted about it soon afterward. Articles like that usually miss the point. Eric’s hit it spot on. Even though I was quite tardy in thanking him for his piece, he quickly responded, thanking me for taking the time to write.
I noticed that below his signature, he had a quote: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy. – Ms. Frizzle”
I packed up and headed out of my office. TK, one of our Vols in the Fall, called as I was pulling out of the parking lot. He told me that Kiffin had resigned to take the Southern Cal job. I thought he was kidding. Then I thought of a post that I almost wrote last week. Then I thought of Ms. Frizzle to whom I had just been introduced by Mr. Angevine.
Sometime last week when I heard about Jim Mora being fired by the Seattle Seahawks, I began to read articles linking Pete Carroll with the vacancy. Kind of made sense. Pete had accomplished a lot at USC, just had a rough year, and maybe it was time to go back to the NFL.
Then I read a piece of speculation by Joel Barker of Saturday Jan 9, a writer on the Tennessee Vols for Bleacher Report. Joel wasn’t predicting that Kiffin would bolt for LA, but was just raising the possibility and predicting that if it happened, it would have a detrimental effect on the Vol football program.
My thought was that there was no way that Kiffin would do such a thing. He was totally committed to doing his own thing at Tennessee – he had created his own path (did he ever), and had invested too much of himself into the project.
Then it became known that USC was having trouble getting their man – Mike Riley signed an extension at Oregon State, and Jack Del Rio was going to stay with Jacksonville of the NFL.
Then I had another thought: We’ll see what Kiffin actually thinks of his own abilities.
If he has supreme confidence in himself as a coach, he will stay at Tennessee. If he doesn’t have that confidence, and the USC job is offered, he will take it.
Tennessee is in the SEC, with Alabama, Florida, and other schools that, at present, have supremacy over the Vols. We have an uphill battle, and Kiffin knows that he will have to show steady, but significant improvement to keep his job for more than three seasons.
Southern Cal is possibly about to enter college football’s version of nuclear winter because of potential sanctions that could be handed down by the NCAA for violations on Carroll’s watch. It also plays in the Pac 1o. Put those two together and you have a much longer leash for Lane to work with. A reclamation project in a lesser conference provides a built-in excuse. Less pressure than the hot humidity of September playing Florida et al every season in the SEC. That, along with being able to recruit from a relatively smaller geographic area with less competition would make USC a cush job compared to that of Tennessee. Far fetched? I think not.
A simple choice for a young, untested coach who might just have an insecurity problem. In fact, isn’t that the underlying neurosis of overly brash behavior? To cover up insecurity?
I didn’t write the article, because I didn’t act on what I really believed. I only believed in what I saw, read, and heard.
Lesson: listen to yourself, and follow Ms. Frizzle’s advice.
MORE READING TO EASE THE PAIN (or perhaps to make it worse):
Recruiting class taking big hits with Kiffin’s departure (Go Vols Xtra)