Doc 5: Best college football coaching backouts -- No. 1 Lane Kiffin

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12: Lane Kiffin, head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers talks in the press conference after a game against the UCLA Bruins on September 12, 2009 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. UCLA beat Tennessee 19-15. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



If college football had villains, then Lane Kiffin would probably fit into that group.

In his five seasons as a collegiate head coach, Kiffin managed to irk two different fan bases, alienate a handful of recruits and players, and just generally become one of the most disliked figures in all of college football.

And it’s all been of Kiffin’s own doing.

When Kiffin was fired from the Oakland Raiders and hired by Tennessee in 2008, there was a lot of promise. Fans were excited about what Kiffin could bring to the Vols as he became the youngest active head coach at the time.

Even though Kiffin led the Vols to a 7-6 campaign in 2009, a step up from the 5-7 record a year before, he didn’t quite endear himself to his fan base or the SEC.

In February of 2009, Kiffin was speaking at a Tennessee booster breakfast when he accused Florida coach Urban Meyer of violating NCAA rules.

"I'm going to turn Florida in right here in front of you," Kiffin told the crowd. "As Nu'Keese (Richardson) was here on campus, his phone keeps ringing. And so one of our coaches is sitting in the meeting with him and says, 'Who is that?' And he looks at the phone and says, 'Urban Meyer.' Just so you know, you can't call a recruit on another campus. But I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him."

Sadly, it was Kiffin who was violating rules by mentioning a recruit by name, which got him fined by the SEC and forced him to apologize to Meyer and the Florida athletic department.

Kiffin also had an issue with recruit Alshon Jeffrey, whom he told: "he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players from that state who had gone to South Carolina."

Of course, Jeffrey went on to have a prosperous career with the Gamecocks and is now a star receiver with the Chicago Bears.

But what made Kiffin a villain in the eyes of Tennessee fans was not his off-field faux pas, it was the way he left the program high-and-dry after just one season.

News of Kiffin’s departure to USC broke — a hire that no one saw coming — it sparked riots on the Tennesse campus, which included small fires. Tennessee’s infamous “Rock” was tagged with all sorts of colorful language against Kiffin, and athletic director Mike Hamilton had few kind words for his former coach.

It was by far one of the most virulent reactions to a coach leaving for another program in college football history.

But Kiffin would eventually get his.

Kiffin amassed a 28-15 record at USC and despite NCAA sanctions, managed to hold the team together and put a competitive product on the field. But his personality, once again, rubbed some people the wrong way, most notably Snoop Lion, a major USC fan with a highly-tuouted recruit for a son, who refused to even acknowledge Kiffin’s existence to the latter part of his USC tenure.

The Trojans started to fall apart at the end of the 2012 season. There was a cocky attitude that didn’t exactly fit their 7-5 record and there was fighting amongst the players. Kiffin had lost control of his program and when the Trojans started the 2013 season 3-2, he was told at the airport following an embarrassing loss to Arizona State that the flight home would be his last with USC.

Of course Tennessee fans rejoiced in all of it, especially the ultimate firing and Kiffin’s subsequent accounts of what went wrong.

But perhaps, their biggest joy came in January, when Alabama announced it had hired Kiffin as its offensive coordinator because that meant Kiffin was finally going to have to face Tennessee fans for his perceived betrayal. The Vols have not had a winning season since Kiffin left.

There should be some interesting interactions when Alabama travels to Tennessee on Oct. 25.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter