The UT athletic director is bi-polar. So is his football program.
Lane Kiffin has done just what his new boss at Tennessee wanted him to do: Put the Volunteers back in the national spotlight.
And while the new coach has ruffled some feathers with his bold moves and brash comments, athletic director Mike Hamilton told The Associated Press Thursday that Kiffin’s statements have been “misunderstood.”
Make up your minds. Junior likes to claim that every move he’s made has been purposeful and that things have gone according to plan. Now he’s “misunderstood”. Oh, please.
“When you think about the fact that our football program was 5-7 last year, and we’ve got a coach that’s not coached a game yet in college football, but yet, we’re on the front page of USA Today sports (Tuesday) … it’s really quite amazing,” he said.
That’s Tennessee football today in a nutshell.
Look for another front page story soon. Maybe this one.
The buildup to Lane Kiffin’s first season at Tennessee continues to be one wild and crazy ride.
He’s gigged rival coaches, pried away top recruits from rival schools, infuriated an entire community with his unflattering post-signing day comments, landed a reprimand from the SEC and accumulated a handful of NCAA secondary violations along the way.
Now Kiffin has the first turnover on his staff — all in about six months’ time.
Sources told ESPN.com that Kiffin and his strength and conditioning coach, Mark Smith, met on Thursday and agreed to part ways…
This is the guy he pried away from Spurrier – and did a fair amount of chest-beating when he did so. That was so six months ago, though. Today, it’s a different story. No one’s giving a reason for the dismissal, but it’s worth noting that it’s not like Smith doesn’t have a respectable background.
… Smith’s resume also includes two years in the NFL, first with the Washington Redskins in 2003 and then with New Orleans Saints in 2004.
Smith was a two-year starter at linebacker for North Carolina State. He began his strength and conditioning career as assistant strength coach for the Wolfpack from 1993-97. He moved to Florida as strength coordinator from 1998-2001 and spent 2002 as head of the Kansas program before moving to the NFL.
Now he’s pumping gas.
UPDATE: Chris Low adds this note.
… It sounds like Tennessee will now go after Aaron Ausmus, who was Ed Orgeron’s strength coach at Ole Miss and worked with both Kiffin and Orgeron at Southern California. Orgeron has a lot of juice in all the decisions that are being made right now within the football program, and Ausmus is clearly one of his guys.
So the guy with the 5-15 head coaching record who’s new to the SEC is leaning heavily for advice on the guy who had a conference record of 3-21 as a head coach. Makes perfect sense.