Unfortunately, I feel the necessity to revisit this topic given the comments in the post by PETER_GRIFFIN-BBrown-bammer found here. Go ahead and groan, you know you want to. This time around, however, I'm going to throw out all aspects of the argument including recruiting, schemes, assistant coaches, and everything else except for one key thing: Motivation.
Picture if you can, you're 24 years old and making millions as a first round draft pick of the Raiders. Now, suppose you have a game where you've thrown 4 int's, fumbled thrice, or been beat all day on the line. You go to practice the next week, and, lo-and-behold, someone just 6 years older than you who actually looks 6 years younger is in your face screaming. What is your response?
Mine would probably be somewhat along the lines of: "Who does this guy think he is? I'M the star! Not him! I make more money, I play the game, I'M the first round pick in the NFL by God!! He's just a former CO-Offensive Coordinator!!"
Egotistical? Absolutely. No, MY ego isn't that inflated, but we all know professional athletes get them as part of their multi-million dollar contracts right?
Therein lies the reason Lane Kiffin could not succeed with the Raiders. He wasn't responsible for the talent level on the team, didn't really control who started and who didn't, and couldn't even make the team practice. But, most of all, he had NO ABILITY to motivate the players based on the fact everyone on the team made more than he did, and most of the players were the same age if not older. Now, you may say "yeah, but that's no excuse, coaches should be able to motivate their players". Absolutely, and we have seen that at Tennessee already. No games have been played, but by all accounts the players are most certainly motivated. There have been no arrests, their team-GPA has improved, and they love to practice.
Terdell Sands is a defensive lineman for the Raiders and Chattanooga native. Once a year, he does a show on the local sports talk radio program and had this to say about Lane Kiffin:
“I think he’ll do a good job at Tennessee because his personality will fit better at that level,” Sands said. “You can’t cuss and fuss at grown men and persuade them to do things the way you can a college kid. But he’ll be a good recruiter of young players because he’s a good salesman.
This is the crux of my argument for the disingenuous comparison of Kiffin's ability in the NFL relating to his potential for success at the college level. Talent is talent, you either have it or you don't, but if you refuse to be motivated to buy into a system and maximize that talent, you aren't going to play. See Lennon Creer.
In order for Lane Kiffin to be able to succeed at any level given his apparent designs for success, he's going to need to control most, if not all, aspects of the program. At Tennessee he can. For the Raiders, with Al Davis and multi-million dollar players the same age, he could not.
This isn't the first time a coach with any amount or no amount of college success has failed at the pro level. For further examples, see Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, and Rick Pitino. All three were highly successful college coaches who did not succeed in the pros mainly because they could not control the program in a manner that maximized their own documented ability to win.
As an aside, I submit that Bruce Pearl would most likely not succeed in the NBA as a head coach for the same reasons.
So, there it is for your contemplation and discussion.