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.