The Dawg House
    Some surprising news was announced this evening as Tennessee Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin is leaving Knoxville to replace Pete Carroll at USC. Kiffin, who went 7-6 in his lone year as the Volunteers head coach, returns to the Trojans coaching staff, where he spent six seasons as an offensive coach. It was said that USC had to act quickly in order to save the recruiting class that Carroll had already put together, and it looks like that's exactly what they did. Lane brings his father Monte and Ed Orgeron, who was previously the associate head coach for the Trojans from 2005-2007, to the Trojans coaching staff as well as UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who was USC's offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2004. 

  Is this a good move for Kiffin's sake? Yes. He is a West-Coast guy. He played at Fresno State, coached at Colorado State then USC as an assistant, then moved on to a very unsuccessful stint as the Raiders head coach. He's had only two jobs on the eastern part of the U.S.: as an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars and, oh yeah, the Tennessee Vols. Kiffin isn't an SEC guy, he's PAC-10 material no doubt. Is that something more or less? No. It's just all together different.

  Now, after saying that, do I like that Kiffin has done this? NO!I find it hard to swallow that you could try and build a sturdy home at Tennessee and then a year later just pick up the pieces and leave. C'mon, you named your son Knox! What are you going to do now, change his name to Angelos? Then there's all the recruits from this year and the previous season who are at or heading to Tennessee, where they believed you would be the head coach for a long period of time. As a result, several will decommit or transfer. Very helpful for the Vols.

  To respond with this sudden announcement, the University of Tennessee has named WR coach Kippy Brown interim head coach. Brown, who is now in his third stint with the Vols, was hired by Kiffin less than a month ago. It is his job to try and keep all these recruits, who many had predicted were part of a Top 5 recruiting class before this fiasco, from jumping ship before a new head coach is hired and also talking into some of the eligible underclassmen to stay at Tennessee and spurn the chance to go pro due to this sudden coaching change. So, who will be the next head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers? I have a few suggestions:

Kirby Smart, Alabama Defensive Coordinator - This would be a homerun for Athletic Director Mike Hamilton. Smart is an SEC guy (played at Georgia, coached at Georgia and now Alabama), something that Kiffin was noticably not, he's young (34, the same age as Lane Kiffin), and he's a hot candidate for many head coaching jobs (Texas Tech was reportedly interested). You can't go wrong with hiring Kirby Smart.

David Cutcliffe, Duke Head Coach - Cutcliffe has been credited for the success that Phillip Fulmer's coaching staff had in the mid and late 90's (the Vols went 63-11 with Cutcliffe as Offensive Coordinator during this time), making him very much liked among the Tennessee faithful. He's known as an amazing QB coach (coached both Manning brothers), and he's beginning to be known for his head coaching ability. Cutcliffe went 44-29 with only one losing season at Ole Miss and has won 9 games in his tenure as the Blue Devils head coach (You would have add up the 2002-2006 wins by Duke to equal this). The only question with Cutcliffe's candidacy is if he is too old. This was a feeling many had about Kiffin's predecessor Phillip Fulmer, who is only four years older that Coach Cutcliffe.

Skip Holtz, East Carolina Head Coach - Skip Holtz's name is one that I've listed on just about every head coaching list I would make just because I believe he has what it takes to make a competitive program. He's had success with both the head coaching jobs he's had (he's went 78-49 at UConn and East Carolina, including three conference titles), he's had experience in the SEC (spent 6 seasons as an assistant under his father Lou at South Carolina), and he's got one of the most recognizable names in college football. Although his name might not jump off the page, Skip Holtz would be a solid hire by the University of Tennessee.

Jon Gruden, former Buccaneers Head Coach - Gruden will most likely be a candidate for this job just like he was last year. Following Phillip Fulmer's firing, Gruden was pursued but quickly turned the job down. At the time he was the head coach of the Bucs, which, as we all know, he no longer is. Gruden spent two seasons at Tennessee as a graduate assistant in the 80s, his wife is from East Tennessee and graduated from UT, and the Grudens own land in Tennessee. However, it seems very clear that Gruden is comfortable in the broadcasting booth. Tennessee would have to make an outstanding contract offer to lure Gruden away from the Monday Night gang.

Bud Foster, Virginia Tech Defensive Coordinator - Foster is a head coach-caliber assistant who's just waiting for the right job. He's been at Virginia Tech since 1987 and has been the Defensive Coordinator since 1995, showing that he is very loyal to the Hokies. However, loyalty only goes so far. Foster showed interest in the West Virginia head coaching position after Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan and then the Clemson job last year after Tommy Bowden was fired. Does Foster have what it takes to create another shutdown defense in the SEC? There's only one way to find out, and that is to hire Bud Foster to replace Lane Kiffin.     


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