Randy Smith: Kiffin’s Karma

Monday, September 30, 2013
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

I would imagine it would be a very difficult task to find a single Tennessee Vol fan that is not extremely happy that Southern Cal fired Head Football Coach Lane Kiffen on Sunday. When Kiffen was in charge of the Tennessee program in 2009, he had a few supporters but most Big Orange faithful had chosen to reserve support until after he had been in Knoxville a little longer. They never really got a chance to feel one way or the other because Kiffen bolted for USC after one season in Knoxville. That move completely surprised everyone, including then U.T. Athletic Director Mike Hamilton. Kiffen escaped Knoxville and the wrath of Tennessee fans as he made his move quietly and in an almost “middle of the night” scenario.

Kiffen’s firing after his Trojans were blasted by Arizona State Saturday night, had a similar kind of feel to it. USC Athletic Director Pat Haden fired Kiffen in the airplane terminal after the team returned from Arizona, and despite a forty-five minute plea from Kiffen himself, Haden stuck to his guns and reportedly even refused to allow Kiffen to ride the team bus back to campus in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Kiffen assistant coach, former Ole Miss Head Coach Ed Orgeron was named as an interim replacement. As my daddy always said, “what goes around comes around.”

I heard that a lot as a boy, and never really understood the meaning until much later. If there was ever a picture perfect example of “Karma” the entire Lane Kiffen situation is it. Former U.T. Head Coach Derek Dooley was despised by a lot of Tennessee fans, but he was almost angelic compared to Kiffen. For the year that Kiffen ran the Tennessee program, there was always a feeling of arrogance as well as a complete disregard for the Volunteers’ fabled tradition.

After he arrived in sunny southern California, Kiffen tried to explain his actions. He talked about things like, “dream jobs” and living out his dreams of coaching at Southern Cal. While he was living out his dreams, Tennessee fans were left in the wake of his nightmare in Knoxville.

The days of one man coaching at the same school for 20 or 30 years is a thing of the past. There is simply too much emphasis on winning right away and there is also too much emphasis on money. I’m sure that Kiffen has a pretty good stock pile of cash, or at least he should be okay for a while, because he may have a hard time finding another coaching job, especially in the college ranks.

He was considered to be a “bright, shining star”  in football coaching circles. The son of an NFL defensive guru, he was an NFL head coach at 31, an SEC head coach at 33, and the head coach at USC at 34. But…..his tenure at all three places was surrounded by constant turmoil. There were feuds with owners, (Oakland Raiders) feuds with other coaches, (Tennessee) and most recently recruiting difficulties brought on by NCAA sanctions that were not of his own doing.  

That brings us back to this “Karma” thing. When you treat people, including your players the way Lane Kiffen treated them, it will always come back to haunt you. (Just ask B.J. Coleman and his family)

Today in my basement, there is a life-size poster of Lane Kiffen, as Tennessee’s head coach, holding a Coke Zero bottle. We saved it from the 2009 season, vowing one day to “burn it in effigy” when the time was right. Thanks to “Karma”, the time is now right. 

rsmithsports@comcast.net

---

Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).


Lee Names Rowland Full-Time Strength Coach

Lee University Athletic Director Larry Carpenter has named Garrett Ballard Rowland as the department’s first full-time strength coach. Rowland holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Science (2011) from the University of Mississippi and a Master’s Degree of Science in Exercise Sciences and Community Health (2016) - Specialization in Physical Education/Teacher Education from ... (click for more)

Wolcott Shoots 65 In State Match Play

Fresh off winning the Choo Choo Invitational, Ben Wolcott shot 65 on Thursday in the opening round of the 16th Tennessee Match Play Championship at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay. Wolcott is three shots ahead of Brentwood's Brendon Caballero. At 69 are Matt Cooper, Craig Smith, Lake Johnson, Brian Therrien and Chip Thomas. Thursday's Results:       ... (click for more)

Man, 28, Shot And Killed In East Chattanooga

A 28-year-old man was shot and killed in East Chattanooga early Friday morning. The victim was identified as Jeremy Clark, a brother of House candidate Dennis Clark. Dennis Clark said, "Jeremy, a beloved son, my younger brother and dear friend to many, was taken from us too soon. The pain from our sudden and tragic loss is Indescribable. He was a compassionate and fun-loving ... (click for more)

Siedlecki Files Amended Financial Disclosure After GOP Files Complaint; Lists Personal Loan Rather Than In-Kind Contribution

Democratic assessor of property candidate Mark Siedlecki filed an amended financial disclosure form on Friday afternoon after county Republicans said he accepted far above the legal limit from a corporation he heads. The new disclosure said he made personal loans totaling $38,288 to the campaign. It does not include any in-kind contributions. The earlier forms listed ... (click for more)

Olympic Events On The Ocoee River Made History – But It Wasn’t Easy

It started with a simple “what if” question while Atlanta officials were working on a bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.  A group of amateur kayakers from the city began asking themselves: “What if Atlanta’s bid is successful? Then where would the Olympic whitewater canoe and kayak races be held?”  To some of the members of that group, the answer was obvious. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Don’t Kick A Man’s Neck

From the minute my brothers and I each became cognizant, my dad started teaching us the rules of becoming a man. Dad was from deep in Mississippi and he’d been taught a lot of life’s secrets from his father. These lessons have been passed for generations and, the older I have become, I’m convinced a lot of them were borne from The Sermon on the Mount. Our favorite, back in the ... (click for more)