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The Cowardly Kiffin


The word most folks on Rocky Top used to categorize Lane Kiffin’s termination as the head football coach at the University of Southern California was karma. Hard to argue, when you consider the way in which Kiffin announced his departure from Tennessee.

The hastily called press conference. The 60-second statement. The refusal to take questions. The untucked shirt.

That night Kiffin confirmed what I had first suspected less than two weeks prior, his nervous rocking and incessant hand-ringing the tell-tale signs of a coward. Yet, during his brief-but-tumultuous stint in Knoxville, many felt he was the right man for the job.

When he took pot shots at Urban Meyer, some believed UT had found its own version of Steve Spurrier. But Spurrier had toiled in obscurity for years at Duke before finally getting his chance in the SEC. And even then, it was with Florida, a team he, himself, had to bring to prominence.

By comparison, Kiffin was toiling anywhere but obscurity as the head man in Oakland. And he’d not even coached two full seasons before getting his shot in the SEC. At one of its most storied programs, to boot. This despite the fact he’d only coached 20 games in his entire life. This despite the fact he’d only won a quarter of them.

Spurrier’s bravado wasn’t hard to figure out, not with the conference and national hardware that came along with it. But Kiffin’s cockiness always confounded, as it came without even the most modest of accomplishments to back it up. Which is why it always felt more like hot hair than anything else.

Steve Spurrier was the guy you loved to hate. Lane Kiffin was simply a jerk.

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