Lane Kiffin leaves Tennessee for USC

Lane Kiffin leaves Tennessee for USC

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"This was not an easy decision. It's something that happened very quick," Lane Kiffin said in a brief, hastily-called press conference. "This was not an easy decision. It's something that happened very quick," Lane Kiffin said in a brief, hastily-called press conference.
Kiffin was introduced as Tennessee's 21st head coach on December 1, 2008. Kiffin was introduced as Tennessee's 21st head coach on December 1, 2008.
A large crowd of angry students and fans formed on the UT campus after the announcement. A large crowd of angry students and fans formed on the UT campus after the announcement.
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KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Lane Kiffin is giving up his job as Tennessee head football coach after one season to take a job with the University of Southern California.

USC athletics officials said late Tuesday Kiffin will be hired as head football coach to replace Pete Carroll, who on Monday was hired by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks as their next coach.

"This was not an easy decision. It's something that happened very quick," Kiffin said in a brief, hastily-called press conference. "The support has been unbelievable here. I really believe this is probably the only place I would have left here to go, was to go to Southern Cal."

"I know that I can walk out of here and say this, 'We've been here for 14 months and there's not one day that I didn't give everything I had to the Tennessee football program,'" he said. "And I know, just leaving that team room, and looking around and seeing the players coming in on this roster and what's going on with their development, that we're leaving here, 14 months later, a lot better team than we were 14 months ago."

"We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC," said USC athletic director Mike Garrett in a university statement. "I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose."

Kiffin has been at Tennessee for just over one year after being hired in November 2008 to replace Phillip Fulmer.

The Vols were 7-6, including a 37-14 loss to No. 12 Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, under Kiffin.


Hamilton has to act quickly

The timing of Kiffin's departure could not be much worse for Tennessee. National Signing Day, the day for high school players to finalize their college selection, will happen in just three weeks.

"I want to thank Coach Kiffin for his work with our program this past year," said UT Men's Athletics Director Mike Hamilton said in a release issued late Tuesday. "We have already begun a search for the new head football coach of the Tennessee Volunteers and we'll complete this process as quickly as possible to put the right person in place to lead our great football program forward in the months and years ahead."

Assistant coach Kippy Brown has been named interim coach for the Vols, Hamilton said.

Brown returned to the Vols just last month after a stint as assistant head coach and passing game coordinator with the Detroit Lions in the NFL. He was with Tennessee under coaches Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer.

Observers have already begun to speculate on who Hamilton might talk to about the Tennessee head coaching job. Some names that have been suggested so far include Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, Texas Christian's Gary Patterson, and Troy Calhoun of the Air Force Academy. 

 
Fans react angrily

A large crowd of angry students and fans formed on the UT campus after the announcement. They shouted and attempted to enter the football offices, demanding to confront Kiffin.

Campus police were able to kick them out of the building, but later the group set fire to a mattress in the street as they shouted epithets.

The fans then moved from Johnny Majors Blvd. to Neyland Stadium, where they knocked down a fence. They attempted to enter the stadium, but failed. 

One person was detained by campus police on a charge of arson.

No one was hurt in the demonstration.


Kiffin became a rising star at USC

Kiffin worked under Carroll at USC, starting as the tight ends coach in 2001 and quickly worked his way up in responsibility at USC, first as wide receivers coach in 2002 and then passing game coordinator in 2004.

He became offensive coordinator in 2005 and was also the recruiting coordinator at USC.

USC said Kiffin will bring with him his father and UT defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin.

Another UT assistant, Ed Orgeron, is also going to USC with Kiffin. Orgeron is one of college football's top recruiters and defensive line coaches.

At 34, Kiffin is one of the youngest head coaches in college football.

He was hired at age 31 by the Oakland Raiders, making him the youngest head coach in  National Football League history.

At Oakland Kiffin had a 5-15 record for the troubled Raiders before being fired by owner Al Davis, just four games into the 2008 season.

Though Kiffin's name surfaced as a replacement for Carroll as soon as rumors started to float about Carroll's departure, few expected USC would be willing to pay a $800,000 buyout of Kiffin's contract.

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