Has he got a deal for you.

Look, I get that with all the criticism, mockery and skepticism thrown in Lane Kiffin’s direction, the natural reaction from the UT faithful is going to be to defend the man and to portray everything that’s gone on in Knoxville since his hire in the best possible light.  That’s what being a fan of the program is all about.

And I think that the fellas that post at Rocky Top Talk are pretty grounded in what they’re pitching, for the most part.  But this kind of talk really needs to stop.

This was a huge priority for Lane. He didn’t decide to take a relatively modest salary and pay his assistants above market value simply out of the generosity of his heart.  Lane Kiffin wanted specific coaches and felt that paying them enough to get them was more valuable to his coaching career than keeping more money for himself.  In the future, we’ll judge these hires by on-field performance.  Right now, we judge them based on the concept and the execution of the concept.  <i>Concept</i> (sic):  Pay the money to get the best coaches I can get.  <i>Execution</i> (sic): The reputations of this staff from previous stops are very high.  Kiffin paid a lot for them, but it’s hard to imagine a more reputable staff.

This is a comforting conceit, but does anybody realistically believe that that’s how things went down?  That Junior sat in Mike Hamilton’s office and told the man that he was offering Kiffin too much money?  Don’t be ridiculous.

Kiffin and Chizik – don’t forget, we’ve heard the same talk about this “new model” from the Auburn faithful, too – didn’t take less money as a result of some conscious, deliberate course of action on their part.  They were offered the money they were offered because that’s what was justified by their respective resumes.  In both cases, those resumes were considerably thinner than those of the men they were replacing.

Thus, the lower salaries weren’t insisted upon by these head coaches in order to free up resources to hire the best possible assistants.  That’s a laugh, really, considering the revenues both football programs generate and how much more will be flowing in with the new TV contracts.  Instead, this is nothing more than after the fact rationalization for the unprecedented amount of spending both schools have lavished on their assistant coaches.

The only part of this model that’s new is that the spending race we’ve already seen applied to head coaches has now made its way to the assistant ranks.  Given the money available and the pressure to win in the SEC, that’s far more a product of inevitability than Mike Hamilton having a Thomas Edison moment.  (And don’t you bet that Fulmer and Tuberville wish that the light bulb for this had gone off while they were still running the show?)

Tell you what – if Junior or Chizik gets off to a roaring start and turns down the large raise that we all know will follow from that so that his assistants can be properly rewarded in the wake of success, I’ll issue a big time mea culpa about this post.  But I wouldn’t hold my breath that it’ll be necessary to apologize.



Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Gene Chizik Is The Chiznit, It's Just Bidness

14 responses to “Has he got a deal for you.

  1. Joe

    I did not know that being a recovering drug addict and being willing to take your shirt off and mix it up with 19 year old kids while hollering “Wild Boys” qualified one as “reputable.”

    Seems I have been going about it entirely wrong all these years, what with my pressed pants and haircut.

    Who knew?


    • … Kiffin refused the personal bonuses for winning SEC/National Coach of the Year and reworked the contract to award that bonus to all his assistants.

      I must have missed the fact that he’s already won those awards and passed the loot on to his staff. This is just more self-serving nonsense. If it makes you guys feel good, so be it.

      Like I said, let’s see what happens when the good times roll. If I’m wrong, I’ll be happy to admit it.


      • Fair enough. I would like to point out that I don’t believe that Kiffin took a lower salary for charitable reasons. The money to hire Monte and Ed had to come from somewhere, and the AD budget is finite.

        If I wanted to make a point about charity, I would have discussed Monte’s and Ed’s salaries; Monte walked out of a significantly higher paying gig in Tampa and O turned down a $900k offer from LSU for a $600k offer from UT. There’s more reason to look for charity there than in Lane’s case.

        It’s all a matter of interpreting circumstantial evidence, so we’ll likely never agree. But I would contend that my POV is at least a reasonable one and not pie-in-the-sky wishfulness.


        • I guess my point is that I don’t think LK “took a lower salary” at all. He’s getting a middle of the pack deal for the SEC, which ain’t too shabby for a first time college head coach.

          Your point about Monte and Orgeron, particularly the latter, is a stronger one, although I think it’s a stretch to call either decision a “charitable” one. There is a non-monetary benefit to working with one’s son, or with people that you’ve developed a close personal and working relationship that often factors into the equation when folks make employment decisions. And Monte, even with the drop from the NFL money, is still the highest paid assistant coach in college football right now, by a wide margin.

          By many accounts that I’ve read, the bargaining chip that LK had to offer any prospective employer was that he and his dad would be a package deal. Perhaps this talk about a new model came out of Lane explaining to Hamilton that UT could have them both for the same kind of money that the school had Fulmer and Chavis for. That’s good negotiating on Kiffin’s part, but hardly a paradigm shift in the approach to putting a college football staff together. I’d be more impressed with all this “new model” talk if we’d have heard it coming out of Hamilton’s mouth before he interviewed LK.

          If LK proves successful, my prediction is that over time the salary structure in place at UT will look more and more like the one you see at every successful college program in the country.


          • At the very least, if Kiffin is successful, this model will be one you see younger coaches advertise to try to land jobs earlier.

            I’m really curious about the father/son bargaining chip. Lane could not have guaranteed Monte due to the terms of the Tampa contract and seemed to be rather pointed about that during the early pressers. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t make an under-the-table deal, but it does mean that any promise to bring Monte was hollow and unofficial because there was no way to hold Monte to it without having him breach contract with the Bucs. Since we haven’t heard a complaint out of the Tampa front offices about it, it seems that there was never anything formal about bringing Monte during the contract negotiations between Lane and Mike. So I’d love to know exactly how that worked out, though I doubt we ever will know.


        • Dog in Fla

          All dates and names changed to protect the innocent:

          12/2/08: St. Pete Times writes that all signs pointing to Monte’s leaving Bucs to coach with his son. Rumors are that Monte would like the end of his coaching career to be a family affair.

          12/15/08: Monte announces he will be joining his son.

          12/25/08: Raheem Morris, a 32 year old defensive backs coach with the Bucs, promoted to Bucs Defensive Coordinator.

          1/16/09: Chuckie fired. From out of nowhere. Out of the blue. Total surprise to everyone, no doubt.

          1/18/09: Raheem Morris, a 32 year old, after a distinguished long and lengthy service of three plus weeks as Bucs Defensive Coordinator, promoted by Glazers to be Bucs Head Coach.

          So another possible conclusion, other than that Monte took the UT job as charity, is that Monte took the job so he would have a job. That job just so happened to be as a $1,000,000.00 coordinator.

          Could Monte or the Glazers have known something that UT AD Mike Hamilton didn’t: Chuckie was about to be shown the door by the Glazers? Could Lane and Monte have outnegotiated UT AD Hamilton? Georgia fans certainly would like to think so.


          • Interesting thought, that.

            I had always figured that Monte was safe from any firing of Chucky. He had survived transitions before and it’s not like the defense was the problem in Tampa. But then again, I didn’t follow the situation that closely.


            • Dog in Fla

              Neither did I because I was suprised by Glazers ditching Gruden though I could not care less about the pros except for the Lions and Broncos now.

              Who knows, when Monte announced he was leaving for Tennessee that may have been enough to get the Glazers to spit the bit on Chuckie.

              You are right that Monte’s defense was not a problem with the Bucs, it was because there was no offense. Even had the Glasers decided that Monte needed to go along with Chuckie too, Monte could have always found a comparable position with another NFL team had he chosen to do so.

              For all anyone knows, and you point out that there are a lot of known knowns, known unknowables and unknowable knowns that no one will ever know, the Glazers could have even sent out feelers to Monte re any interest that he may have in becoming the Bucs head coach and, if so, he may not have been interested because of loyalty to Gruden or for the great possibility for him to join his son at Tennessee.

              Had Monte stayed with the Bucs, maybe Chuckie could have too. In other words, you are most likely right, but in the interest of poetic license and what would ordinarily be extreme offseason boredom, thank you Lane, why leave any University of Tennessee conspiracy theory off the side of the road unpoked?


      • Mike In Valdosta

        A bird in the hand, even if it is in the hand of my fellow hunter, is better than a bird in the bush.


  2. donkeydawg

    The bigger issue with Junior remains this: is his Dream Team assistant roster designed to win games any time soon, or simply to boost recruiting in the pursuit of a big payoff later on? UT’s weird behavior towards the quarterback position–sacrificing 2009 and maybe 2010 to raise a flag for the five-star Ultimate Weapon–indicates a very long-range strategy focused heavily on recruiting.

    If that’s the case, you’d think the public diplomacy of the program would admit this, lowering immediate expectations. But unlike Chizik, whose own Dream Team hirings seem to be aimed at winning games sooner rather than later, Junior’s not exactly tamping down fan base optimism, which is trending rapidly towards the hallucinatory.