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Kiffin out, recruits dropping, students angry

1:00 PM, Jan 13, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Brent Hubbs on Kiffin's departure

Video: Web Extra: Lane Kiffin press conference

Video: Chris Low on Kiffin's departure

  • Students gather on Johnny Majors Boulevard
  • Kippy Brown
  • The rock, minus its new profanity
  • Lane Kiffin
  • Students gathered at Neyland Stadium and made brief efforts at climbing the fence to get inside
    
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  • Original article
  • Vols Coach Lane Kiffin became former coach Wednesday night, announcing he was leaving after just 14 months to take the head coaching spot at USC.

    The fallout is already being felt, with student protests, commitments to the Vols dropping, and players shocked and outraged. Rivals.com is reporting strongside defensive end Brandon Willis will no longer be headed to Tennessee, instead committing to North Carolina.

    And Volquest.com is reporting on players' anger at Kiffin's sudden departure and recruiting coach Ed Orgeron no longer taking phone calls from UT players.

    Regarding a rumor that Ed Orgeron has been calling UT recruits and telling them not to attend class so they can more easily transfer to USC, Kiffin told Volquest he'd heard that rumor but said he did not have direct knowledge of that happening.

    Students protest

    The scene on the UT campus calmed down shortly before midnight after an angry student protest bordered on a riot.

    After initially gathering at the rock and painting it with several choice words aimed at Kiffin, some students attempted to enter the press conference where the resignation announcement was set to be made.  The students were asked to leave and complied.

    "We just really wanted to see Lane Kiffin and let him know how we feel," said UT student Zach Griesler.  "We wanted to let him know this decision affects people and how betrayed we feel."

    Hundreds of students gathered on Johnny Majors Boulevard and were blocking the road after departing Coach Lane Kiffin's statement announcing his departure.  Some students apparently blocked the road with the goal of preventing Kiffin from leaving the lot.

    There were signs of order breaking down--someone brought a mattress down and lit it on fire. Reporter Kris Budden said some students were burning UT apparel.

    Police and firefighters were on the scene in an effort to calm the situation. The mattress was extinguished.

    After the protest on Johnny Majors Boulevard, a large crowd gathered at Neyland Stadium. Some in the crowd were scaling the fence in an effort to get in; no one successfully entered the stadium.

    Griesler said a break-up handled in this manner by Kiffin was bound to be ugly.

    "It's sad because it is almost like breaking up with a girlfriend, but we [the students] pay so much money to go to those games," said Griesler.  "They really rely on us for a lot of the tradition here and Lane Kiffin really flew in the face of that and decided to get out of town."

    "It is really deceiving," said UT student Clara Davis.   "How would you say you are going to bring us to another level and you only stay here one year?  I think it is pretty messed up.  There was no point in him coming here."

    Shortly after midnight, UT Police closed the road in front of Neyland Stadium.  The students quietly returned to their cars and dorms without any further incidents.  No injuries or arrests were reported.

    Kiffin left the athletic complex with a police escort.

    Kiffin out

    Coach Lane Kiffin himself has confirmed he's leaving the University of Tennessee for an opportuinity at USC.

    Kiffin spoke very briefly in a press conference from which live cameras were barred. An athletic department spokesperson said Kiffin planned to make a longer statement, but the former coach wanted cameras turned off for most of it.  WBIR and WATE refused to abide by that restriction.

    Kiffin had little to say of his departure--he said family played a big role in his decision. He'll be returning to USC, where he was once a wide receivers coach. He'll be taking his father/defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron with him.

    He expressed gratitude to the university and East Tennessee for the way the community welcomed him during his 14 months here.

    With that, he was on his way.

    The statement from USC had a bit more to say.

    "We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC," said USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett. "I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose. I'm confident he and his staff will keep USC football performing at the high level that we expect.

    "Lane brings a lot to the table. He has a coaching background both in the pros and in the best collegiate conferences. He has a great command of the X's and O's. He is familiar with the Trojan landscape and will be a great representative of our university. He keeps the game fun. And, very importantly, he has proven to be one of the finest recruiters anywhere.

    "Lane has surrounded himself with others of similar talent. I can't tell you how delighted we are to have Ed Orgeron back on staff and to have Monte Kiffin join us. They are some of the pre-eminent coaches in the game. Ed did a marvelous job during his previous time at USC and we all know that Monte is a defensive guru. I know Lane will fill out his staff with other outstanding assistants like them, ones who Trojan players and fans will really like."

    What's next for the Vols?

    With the reins being handed over to Kippy Brown as interim coach, Athletic Director Mike Hamilton and Brown will have their hands full.

    "I want to thank Coach Kiffin for his work with our program this past year. We have already begun the search for the new head football coach of the Tennessee Volunteers. We will complete this process as quickly as possible to put the right person in place to lead our great program forward in the months and years ahead," Hamilton said in a statement.

    WBIR contributor and ESPN.com writer Chris Low is reporting a source close to the situation is telling him Tennessee will make a play for Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, said to be heir apparent for the head coaching position of the Longhorns.

    Sources also told Low that Kippy Brown was given an opportunity to follow Kiffin to USC, but he will not.

    Hamilton was actually out of town when the news broke. He's returning from Denver. Kippy Brown will be named interim coach.

    WBIR Sports Director Steve Phillips and analyst Will Overstreet said reassuring recruits and current players will be among the top priorities.

    At this time, they'll be feeling a lot of instability. NCAA rules make jumping to another school a proposition with drawbacks--a one-year waiting period for one--but some will certainly be considering it.

    Overstreet also said this situation is an indication of the state of college football overall.

    Phillips said Kiffin's departure was absolutely a product of this job coming open and Kiffin's perception of how well he'd fit there. Phillips said he didn't perceive any other opportunity that would likely have drawn Kiffin away.

    Kiffin would replace Pete Carroll, who jumped to the NFL as coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

    Kiffin, the former Oakland Raiders coach, led the Volunteers for only one season.

    According to the sources, Kiffin will bring his father and defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, and assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron to Southern Cal with him, and wide receivers coach Kippy Brown will be named interim head coach at Tennessee

    Lane Kiffin was supposed to talk to the media at 9:30.

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