Friday, November 28, 2008
Sources: Tennessee could announce deal with Kiffin on Monday
By Chris Low ESPN.com
Tennessee has reached an agreement with former Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin to take over as the Volunteers' next coach, with an announcement planned for Monday, barring any snags, according to multiple sources.
Kiffin, 33, will be making his college head coaching debut in succeeding Phillip Fulmer, who will coach his last game for the Vols on Saturday.
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton denied reports on Wednesday that Kiffin had been offered a contract. But Kiffin has been at the forefront of the Vols' search for some time.
Part of the holdup is that Tennessee didn't want to do anything officially this week that would take away from Fulmer's final game Saturday against Kentucky. Fulmer was fired by Hamilton on Nov. 2 and allowed to finish out the season. He's been at Tennessee as a player, assistant coach and head coach for 35 years.
The university has dubbed Saturday's game "Phillip Fulmer Appreciation Day" at Neyland Stadium in celebration of his 17-year tenure.
Kiffin was 5-15 in a year and a half with the Oakland Raiders before being fired earlier this season by team owner Al Davis.
Kiffin, the youngest head coach in NFL history when he was hired by the Raiders, earned $2 million per year in Oakland. His salary at Tennessee is expected to exceed that.
One of the big draws with Kiffin was the staff that he'll potentially be able to put together. He's talked with his father, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, about joining him at Tennessee. The elder Kiffin is considered one of the foremost defensive minds in football.
Got his work cut out
Blogger Chris Low wonders if 33-year-old Lane Kiffin is ready for the dog-eat-dog world of the Southeastern Conference. Blog
Kiffin also has talked to former Mississippi head coach Ed Orgeron about joining his staff in Knoxville. Orgeron currently is an assistant on Sean Payton's New Orleans Saints staff and coached with Kiffin at USC earlier this decade.
Kiffin will become only the fifth head coach at Tennessee in the last 45 years. He had stints as offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at USC and shared play-calling duties with quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian during his two-year run as offensive coordinator with the Trojans in 2005 and 2006.
Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com.