I’m not sure that much of this stuff links together, but it’s worth taking a look at anyway:
— Start with the Birmingham News’ Ray Melick’s smackdown of Master Lane Kiffin. Basically, Kiffin and his school are acting like an SEC version of the Barbarians at the Gate-like hostile takeover pros, with top recruiters playing the target. Except that this is Kiffin’s first dance as a college head coach. And he flopped miserably in his previous head coaching stint. And his basic success to this point is due more to bloodlines and rolodex entries than actual wins and losses. And his tendency to gloat in public, of course.
… Between the money and dangling the lure of learning from his father, Lane Kiffin managed to go out and put together a staff of some of the top recruiters of Tennessee’s rivals.
And the younger Kiffin is crowing.
“With the staff now complete,” Kiffin said, “not only do we have the best recruiters in the SEC but some of the best in the country. To be able to take South Carolina’s recruiting coordinator, Mississippi State’s recruiting coordinator, Alabama’s best recruiter and Auburn’s best recruiter over the past 10 years was a great accomplishment for us.
“Once again, I would like to thank Mike Hamilton, the athletic department, and our donors for making this possible.”
As one of my commenters noted the other day, it sure should be a fun SEC Media Days this year. Even if nobody subpoenas Tennessee’s head coach this time.
— Next, I’m not quoting this because he cited me (although it doesn’t hurt), but David Hale gets one of my arguments about a playoff for D-1 football.
The SEC tournament last year was a high point in Georgia sports. It was a miracle run, it was lots of fun to watch, and it was something to be proud of. But it wasn’t reality. Senator Blutarski over at Get the Picture regularly rails against a football playoff because it is no more a true determination of the best team as is the current system. A playoff, as the Arizona Cardinals have shown, rewards the hottest team, not the best one. That’s all the SEC tournament was — a four-game enigma, a blip of statistical fluctuation that is hardly uncommon amid a small sample size. Do the Dawgs deserve credit for the accomplishment? Absolutely. But it shouldn’t cloud the view of the bigger picture.
Make the postseason pool big enough and you’ll get your Cinderellas every year, in one form or fashion. Statistical anomalies mean more in the postseason. But some of that success, while inspiring in the short term, often winds up being little more than a mirage. That’s a helluva tradeoff for a diminished regular season.
— And Groo’s got a great post up looking at the non-conference schedules for the primary 2009 national contenders. Pretty much every school there should be ashamed of what’s been lined up, with the exception of Southern Cal (which will probably lose a road conference game to an inferior opponent anyway, so it won’t matter). And they all pale in comparison to Georgia’s.
— Lastly, did you know that there are only two schools in the SEC that don’t have former head coaches on their current staffs as assistants?
UPDATE: Doc Saturday shows us the new math on assistant coaching salaries.
… Consider that at the start of last season, the most expensive assistant coach in the country was Florida State’s offensive coordinator/coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher, at a base salary of $600,000. Tennessee not only nearly doubled that for Kiffin’s grizzled dad, Monte, to come on as defensive coordinator (he’ll make a little more than $1 million, half his salary with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), but also topped it for Ed Orgeron’s noted recruiting prowess (Coach O will bring in $650,000 as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach). Last week, they went for broke to lure Alabama’s ace recruiter, Lance Thompson, for $400,000 — as an outside linebackers coach who’ll play second fiddle to Orgeron on the recruiting trail. That’s well over $2 million for three assistants, more than most schools — even SEC schools — allocate for their entire staff of assistants.
With the new TV money rippling through the conference, trust me, this is just getting started.