While Kiffin’s press conference was entertaining, and seemed genuine, questions still remain as to whether UT will actually return to form while rebuilding in the country’s toughest college football conference. Kiffin may be the man to do just that. He is a great football mind, who helped to turn a failing Raiders organization into what seemed to be a positive direction before his very public firing.
But he will also be competing with the likes of Nick Saban, Urban Meyers and Les Miles – to name a few – for players. Every team in the SEC has a high-profile person at the helm, from the “Old Ball Coach” to the deceptive and sneaky Patreno, they’re all there.
There also is no league that features more talent, and to rebuild in such an atmosphere is near impossible. In reaffirming the UT program, Kiffin will play in the same division as Florida and Georgia, while taking the field against Alabama every year. This would be a loaded schedule for anyone, but it nearly spells coaching suicide to do this in a rebuilding effort.
Kiffin will also face high expectations at UT. Its exemplary past with former coach Phillip Fulmer established the reputation that led fans, alumni and those within UT athletics expect the football team to be its staple program. But how can Kiffin be expected to live up to those expectations if Fulmer could not live up to Knoxville bar he set himself.
Instant gratification is the name of the game in today’s sporting world, which makes one wonder how patient will the Knoxville faithful be with Kiffin? Kiffin is already making promises he probably won’t see through.
“I’m really looking forward to embracing some of the great traditions at the University of Tennessee,” he said. “For instance, the Vol Walk, running through the T, singing ‘Rocky Top’ all night long after we beat Florida next year. It’s going to be a blast, OK, so get ready.”
If I were Kiffin I’d do all I could to temper expectations. If he isn’t careful fans will be calling for his head in two or three years. Being confident is one thing, but brash proclaimations of future wins over rival Florida, who is competing for the SEC Championship and poised for possible national title, is a bit over the top.
Before guaranteeing wins, Kiffin better get his recruiting hard hat on because wars await and he may be on the losing end of many battles on the football field and in the living rooms of recruits. If that does happen, and the loses start to pile up, look for Kiffin to be sent packing for a second time.