In the now classic NBC drama 30 Rock, protagonist Liz Lemon is constantly on the hunt for love. Lemon is a quirky thirty something living in New York City, who can never quite find Mr. Right. Until one day, she meets Wesley, an odd ball British national living in the Big Apple. Wes and Liz despise each other, and logically are not compatible. However, “the universe” seems to be pushing them together. Wesley contends that both are damaged goods on the dating market, and that they are ultimately destined to settle for one another. Fate binds the two together, despite their differences.
In light of this weekend’s Schiano debacle, the Universtity of Tennessee is seen as “damaged goods.” The facts are that the elite names Vol fans fantasized over before the Schiano disaster simply won’t touch the Tennessee job at this point. Now it seems even hometown hero and Vol legend David Cutcliffe has turned it down.
Tennesssee is officially alone on prom night. But, it appears destiny may be calling. An unlikely suitor, someone who knows what it means to be damaged goods, appears to have interests in the job. Lane Kiffin dumped Tennessee in the black of night on January 13, 2009. Since that day not much has gone right for Tennessee, and Kiffin has had his fair share of trials.
Since Kiffin’s midnight exodus, Tennessee’s overall record is a whopping 41-49. The Vols haven’t so much as sniffed a major bowl game, much less an SEC Championship appearance. Kiffin’s two successors drove an already unstable program into the ground. This past weekend, Vol football hit rock bottom, twice. On Saturday it ended its first ever eight loss campaign in 121 seasons. On Sunday… the Greg Schiano humiliation happened. Vol football has never been in a worse place.
Since his departure, Kiffin’s career has been a roller coaster ride. A tumultuous tenure at NCAA sanction plagued USC ended with Kiffin fired on the tarmac, forbidden from even flying home with his team.
After USC, Kiffin went to coaching rehab in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Kiffin proved once again that he is one of the greatest minds in football, helping Bama go on an absurd 39-3 run over three years. The Bama boys picked up three SEC, and one National Title. Kiffin’s offenses were ranked among the best nationally each year. He averaged over 40 points per game in three seasons.
In Tuscaloosa, Kiffin grew up. Benefiting from the discipline of the greatest college coach in history, he learned how to lead a program. The boy wonder became a veteran. He has proven this by leading Florida Atlantic, where he is currently the head coach, to a 9-3 mark and an 8 game winning streak. In their previous three seasons combined, FAU won a total of nine games. This Saturday they will play for the C-USA conference championship.
Kiffin burned a lot of bridges during his tenure in and exit from Knoxville. He was immature, and couldn’t handle the off of the field aspects of leading a program like Tennessee. Many fences need mending for Kiffin to return. Vol fans haven’t forgotten the way he left, nor have they forgotten the way he almost beat national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Kiffin and the Vols are officially two pimple faced kids sitting by the punch bowl at the dance. At one time, both were hot commodities. Now they’re just damaged goods, spit out by the rough and tumble world of college football. In a weird way, they’ve become a perfect match. The question remains, will Tennessee work up the courage to ask him to dance?