Reaction to Lane Kiffin's decision to leave Tennessee after only one season to become coach at USC:
Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times: What was USC athletic director Mike Garrett thinking? This question, of course, is based on the large and dangerous assumption that he was actually thinking. On the contrary, in handing his heavyweight USC team to lightweight Lane Kiffin, Garrett has seemingly lost his mind.
Mike Strange, Knoxville News Sentinel: When it came time for Kiffin to address the Tennessee media, spokesman Bud Ford informed the TV folks there would be no live cameras — or else Kiffin wasn't coming. WBIR news director Bill Shory wouldn't stand for it. There was shouting. The print and radio folks figured a little Kiffin was better than no Kiffin. "He's a snake,'' offered Mark Packer of WVLT.
Mark Whicker, Orange County Register: This is the coaching-search equivalent of California's Kevin Moen taking the final lateral and plowing through the Stanford band. Did Garrett call Jim Harbaugh? Jon Gruden? Chris Petersen, for goodness' sake? Steve Mariucci? Anybody else with a longer track record than 7-6 in college and 5-15 with the Raiders?
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: Kiffin is young and dynamic but also brings NCAA rules-violation baggage from Tennessee. An already troubled USC program can't afford a misstep by Pete Carroll's successor.
Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Apart from signing a few players and making a slew of enemies and beating Georgia by 26 points, what exactly did Kiffin do? His one and only team finished 7-6. And if you were looking for his second team to topple a Tebow-less (and perhaps Urban-less) Florida, you can forget it. There’ll be no second team. Just another coaching search, another new man, another season of transition.
David Climer, Tennessean: This is what you get when you hand over your program to a football mercenary like Kiffin. Even as Kiffin made recruiting pitches to hotshot prospects in the last few days, he was checking his Blackberry for updates on the USC vacancy. Like others of his ilk, Kiffin was always on the lookout for a better deal. He was more concerned about his next job than taking care of his current job.
Vincent Bonsignore, Los Angeles Daily News: At Tennessee, Kiffin came off as a brat, a coach in over his head. He said silly things and made dubious mistakes. This is USC. You want a respected coach comfortable being in charge, confident and intelligent. The last thing you want is a coach you have to continually apologize for.
Geoff Calkins, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Kiffin shafted Tennessee. Make no mistake about it. But before Volunteer fans spend spend too much time bemoaning the lack of loyalty in college football these days, answer this question: How much loyalty did Tennessee show Phil Fulmer a year ago?
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports.com: By hiring Kiffin, Garrett decided to put out the NCAA fire with gasoline.
Peter Schrager, Fox Sports.com: After he fired Kiffin in '07, Oakland Raider managing general partner Al Davis famously noted, "It hurts because I picked the guy. I picked the wrong guy." Tennessee now knows just how Davis felt. And if history tells us anything, so — eventually — will USC.
Stewart Mandel, SI.com: In an age of mercenary coaches like Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino, Kiffin's sudden about-face is hardly unique. The difference is, those guys had actually accomplished something.
Josh Flory, Knoxville News Sentinel: A Knoxville apparel store owner is offering any customer who brings in a Kiffin "It's Time" T-shirt a 20% discount on the purchase of a new shirt. The owner said he'll ship the old shirts to Haiti, which was devastated Tuesday by an earthquake.
Heisman Pundit: Somehow, someway, Kiffin was able to convince USC that he was the guy. But the reality is that by hiring Kiffin, USC is sticking a fat middle finger in the face of the NCAA, the media and its fellow institutions.