Sometimes sports and politics have a confluence in interesting ways. Not as much as sports and the film and music industries, which are subjected to relentless paparazzi attacks. For non-sports fans or those who simply hate it, the following background info rmation may be important to your future. The University of Southern California recently hired a new football coach away from the University of Tennessee . He was there one year and had a mediocre performance, while committing a variety of regulatory and etiquette sins. The previous year he was coach of the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League and was dramatically dismissed after a dismal, short tenure. For his mediocrity, Lane Kiffin was rewarded with one of the best college football coaching jobs in the country at USC. Go figure.
What’s scary and relevant is this: At this rate, Kiffin is a candidate to be Sarah Palin’s running mate in 2010. They’re a perfect couple, I mean ticket. It’s funny, but it’s not funny.
Full Disclosure: I am a diehard football fan of The University of Tennessee , University of Michigan and University of California . This is a result of my origins, education and career travels. As a Wolverine fan, I saw Charles White awarded 6 points in the 1979 Rose Bowl, despite the fact that he left the ball on the 3 yard line. As a Cal Bear fan, I hate USC on general principle. Plus, I went to a USC game at the Liberty Bowl in 1977, and had the misfortune to be seated right next to the USC band. I had to listen to that stupid Trojan March all night long. Now comes the Lane Kiffin thing:
I want to buy a few thousand Big Orange T-shirts that say, “AL DAVIS WAS RIGHT!!!” I think there will be a market for that everywhere Kiffin has wrought his destructive ineptitude. Al Davis is the owner of the Oakland Raiders and Kiffiin’s former employer. He made a huge public display in dismissing him and said, “I feel stupid because I hired him.” If Al Davis has a leg up on Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton in the candor department, maybe Tennessee needs a new athletic director too. Davis isn’t exactly known for his integrity and forthrightness with the media. As a Raider fan, it’s tough to say Al Davis has been right about anything since 1984, but this time . . . Oy.
I knew Kiffin would bring damage to the proud UT football program – but I never dreamed it would be so quick. . . Uffda. So Tennessee will suffer for another year or so because of the inescapable recruiting debacle, but will be much better in the long run, while USC continues its fast-track to big-time probation.
Who else is right for the first time in a long time? Jerry Tarkanian, the great basketball coach for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and other schools, who found himself in repeated problems with the NCAA! He recently called out the NCAA for being the corrupt operators they are. They protect the traditionally powerful programs like USC football while targeting smaller, sometimes rising schools for petty regulatory violations. Some say the NCAA is beset by gross ineptitude and a crooked agenda, inconsistently applying an enforcement agenda that protects the biggest players in their corporation.
This again illustrates that the NCAA needs to “spine up” and start forcing “student athletes” choose a school and not a coach. This issue has arisen repeatedly when coaches change jobs at inconvenient times and takes some of his recruits with him. The University of Kentucky recently bought John Calipari and some of his recruits for about $36 million. The NCAA needs to sanction USC quickly and forcefully for brazenly interfering with Tennessee ’s recruiting process, which occurred before the ink was dry on the coaches new contracts. Ed Orgeron called talked to Tennessee recruits he had contacted on that schools behalf, and invited/asked them to come to USC. Orgeron should be banished from all coaching and recruiting activities, or sent back to Ole Miss, where he was previously dismissed.
When all is said and done, the “Peter Principle” will be known as the “Kiffin Effect” – or perhaps the “Putz Principle” -that is, people will be promoted until they reach a level of gross incompetence, if garden variety incompetence does not suffice. He was incompetent as a Raider coach and got the Tennessee job; he got almost everything wrong as the UT coach and got the USC job. What’s next for him? Oh G-d please don’t let it be . . . oh no . . . forgive me for thinking it: PALIN-KIFFIN IN ’12. That is, unless those Apocalypse predictors are right.
What I want to know is when do they play? A new rivalry has been born. Why wait?
Scott Prostermanis a music, film and dance historian in Berkeley. He worked as a disc jockey in Pittsburgh and Memphis, where he grew up and where it all began. He was born in the 50s, grew up in the 60s, thrived in the 70s, barely survived the 80s, and re-grouped in the 90s.