If any recent coaching stop deserved it’s very own story, Lane Kiffin’s year leading the Tennessee Vols program would certainly get my vote. That’s exactly what ESPN’s Chris Low did, and it’s every bit of a good read that you’d expect it to be.
The most interesting nugget in the whole story though revolves around a post game handshake after Tennesse’s took Alabama down to the wire.
The moment came after Alabama defensive lineman Terrence Cody blocked a 44-yard field goal attempt by Vols kicker Daniel Lincoln to help the Tide escape with a narrow 12-10 victory that would help pave the way to Saban’s first national title at Alabama.
At the customary post game handshake, Kiffin shook Saban’s hand and said, “Hey. Good game, but that’s the last time it’s going to happen.”
As the article points out:
A decade later, Kiffin shrugs. “It was the last time it happened. It’s the last time he beat me, so I guess that part is true.
“Like a dumbass, I also didn’t know I was going to need a job from him in five years, either.”
Of course, Kiffin ended up leaving Knoxville for USC, and the Trojans program was hit with some really serious sanctions and scholarship reductions. Kiffin ended up going 28-15 before being let go. We all know how the story goes from there – Kiffin ends up in Tuscaloosa as Saban’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16 before leaving for the FAU head coaching job amid a ton of friction between he and Saban.
The piece has a lot of great Lane Kiffin stories from his pre-social media and more bold and brash days including; defensive line coach Ed Orgeron tossing a projector against a wall, players throwing chairs, super-boosters asking dad and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to quiet Lane down a bit, and how those now infamous Tennessee black alternate uniforms came to be with a line from Kiffin “Screw it. Let ’em fire me.” The story also shares some notes from players on how Lane’s approach helped to build confidence in a time where it was desperately needed on Rocky Top.
Head here to read all of that and more, including the craziness that went down after Kiffin accepted the USC job.