Kiffin watch: on getting it, and getting after it.

My post on why I don’t understand Junior’s strategy in rebuilding the Tennessee brand has prompted a couple of responses on the ‘Net – one from Brian Cook, who shares my puzzlement, and one from Rocky Top Talk’s CornFromAJar, who responds to Brian and me.

Corn’s response was thoughtful and honest – he’s got no idea where the ride is going to take him, but at least he’s enjoying the journey so far – and so deserves a brief response in return.  What I’m struck by with his post (and some of the comments to it) is how tired the UT fan base had grown of Fulmer.  Now, being a Georgia fan, I can certainly understand how a coach’s appeal can wear thin, but it’s not like Fulmer’s resume was exactly threadbare, even of late (there was a SECCG appearance in ’07 that was extremely painful for me, anyway).

But here’s the thing:  like him or not (and I’m certainly in the latter category), you never questioned the fact that Fulmer bled orange.  So far, there’s nothing in Junior’s actions that indicates the same dedication to UT – if anything, some of what he’s done is quite contrary to that.  And again, I realize that winning will override much of that for the typical Vol fan.  But I’m still a wee bit surprised by it – especially if it’s an attitude shared by Hamilton, which Corn assures me it is.

But if going in a radically different direction, and by that I mean ignoring convention and tradition to a significant extent, was the approach embraced by Hamilton from the start, why didn’t he talk seriously to somebody like Mike Leach who’s been very successful on the college level?  Leach (who has an SEC coaching background, unlike Junior) with some stellar recruiters could have been a force in the conference, could he not?

Further, I think Corn has badly missed on Brian’s comparison of Junior and Spurrier.  The point isn’t that both men run their mouths, only Spurrier waited until he accomplished something. It’s that Spurrier went into Gainesville armed with an offensive strategy he knew would work and a realization that the key to success was changing the program’s attitude about the Georgia game, while the Laner’s method to date can only be characterized as an ad hoc approach to doing whatever it takes to win recruits.  And if that’s all it takes to win big in the SEC, the Zooker would still be a Gator.

I guess I’m just finding a lot of the “it’s all part of a plan” talk a lot of after the fact justification, particularly in light of the last contract Hamilton handed out to Fulmer.

On the other hand, if you want to find something that should legitimately excite the UT faithful, check out this lengthy, detailed post on NFL defenses.  There may be more there than you ever wanted to know, but interspersed throughout is a lot about Monte Kiffin’s strategy.  And if you look at Warren Sapp’s career as sort of a collaborative effort between Orgeron and MK, it’s hard not to be impressed about what they might be able to accomplish together – while it lasts, anyway.


UPDATE: Without context, I can’t say for certain, but, Jeezus, this seems excessive:

Under Kiffin’s direction, UT spent $835,908.47 from Dec. 1 to National Signing Day on Feb. 4.


Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Strategery And Mechanics, The Blogosphere, The Glass is Half Fulmer

13 responses to “Kiffin watch: on getting it, and getting after it.

  1. Joe

    The sad thing for Ufk fans is that they seem to be hanging their hat on Laney’s recruiting. Ufk has the most current NFL players of any SEC school, they simply have not recruited a good QB since Tee Martin left.

    Laney is not going to recruit any better than Fulmer did, so it will basically come down to weekly preparation and gameday acumen. Granted, Fulmer was not good at the latter, but I don’t think any Ufk fan could say with a straight face that they think Laney will be a better program guide.

    The whole “recruiting machine” talk is simply a myth created by Laney. Ufk has been recruiting at an incredibly high level for Fulmer’s entire tenure.


    • Hobnail_Boot

      Ainge was a fine QB.


      • Joe

        Unfortunately, Ainge was a fine QB against one program in the SEC. That happened to be UGA.

        If you look at his total body of work, minus the UGA games, he was, at best, a Clausen.


  2. Mike In Valdosta

    “But if going in a radically different direction, and by that I mean ignoring convention and tradition to a significant extent, was the approach embraced by Hamilton from the start, why didn’t he talk seriously to somebody like Mike Leach who’s been very successful on the college level?”

    I honestly think Hamilton just wanted to sit next to Mrs. Kiffin in the sky box.


  3. kckd

    Senator, I’ve seen not one reporter and no blogger that I can recall question Kiffin’s main excuse for his shenanigans. He says it was mainly to get UT’s name out there for recruits and he points to his 2009 signing class as the proof it’s working. But he did almost all of this shite after signing day. And he only signed three more after that, and all of those guys were reported as even or leaning towards UT. So it’s not like there is a shred of evidence to even back up his reason for doing it. he did it because he’s young and stupid. But he took what the fanbase came up with as an excuse and ran with it.


  4. 69Dawg

    UGA shifts our DL too but something tells me we do not coach the boys up. CRG has had a great many All-Pro tackles that were at best ok when they played at UGA. They never seemed to dominate in college like they did once they were playing for pay. We seem to like the Bull rush as a way to keep the OL off the LBs and that kills us when we need a good pass rush. When is the last time our DL’s stunted, never? Well maybe a little but usually we are just straight at them boys. GT’s OL was in our D backfield the whole second half because they just didn’t worry about our DL handling the wide pitch. Our DE’s were out of position on every long run GT made. I can’t go on I’m having a flashback.


  5. No offense intended to Corn from a Jar, but his main defense of Kiffin is pretty much the same (and only) defense I’ve heard from the rest of the Tennessee fan base: Kiffin has made Tennessee football “fun” again. Will it still be fun if Kiffin notches the same 5-7 record that apparently took all the “fun” out of the program in Fulmer’s final year?

    There just seems to be a lot of rationalizing going on in Knoxville these days — both from the administration and the fans. It seems like everyone’s trying to come up with reasons why hiring a complete dumbass wasn’t really that bad an idea.


  6. Pingback: There Simply is No Basis for Believing Lane Kiffin Will Succeed |

  7. CornFromAJar

    In my own defense…

    Certainly Fulmer bled orange, and nobody in the Tennessee fanbase ever got tired of that. What I was trying to say was that Fulmer was boring, and Kiffin is anything but. It may certainly be that by the end of next season, I’ll be longing for boring.

    I don’t think I misread Brian’s comparison of Kiffin/Spurrier. Brian was trying to say that real “cleverness” is obvious, and to him it’s obvious that Kiffin’s not clever. My point is that it’s simply too early to know that. Six months into Spurrier’s regime at Florida, nobody knew exactly how successful he would be; likewise, nobody knows–I mean really, really knows–how successful Kiffin will/won’t be… it’s all conjecture at this point.

    To commenter Joe: the early returns say Kiffin will recruit at least as well as Fulmer did (if not better, but again, too early to tell). But on UT’s roster this year, there will be six 4- & 5-star skill position players, only two of them were signed by Fulmer. Kiffin’s already playing with his own chips.

    Doug, all we have is that it’s “fun.” Kiffin hasn’t coached a down of SEC football. Again, I wouldn’t presume to know what will happen with Tennessee in the next three years.

    My point was/is this (and maybe I didn’t make it clear enough originally): I have no idea if all of this is “part of the plan.” Hell, I don’t know if there is a plan. But I do think the rush to judgement on a guy who hasn’t seen his first Saturday on an SEC sideline is premature at best and foolish at worst.