My favorite class during my illustrious tenure at the University of Tennessee was History of Revolution. And what you discover is that no matter how violent or drastic the revolution, there is always a reactionary period that follows, and usually more than one. The pendulum swings back and forth, from one end of the spectrum to the other. It happens in politics and elections, and it happens in sports.
Since we've got all the fire, tear gas and rabblerabblerabble of a revolution in Knoxville, it's worth noting that the Vols' next move appears most likely to be in line with the pendulum swing - I think the next head coach is more likely to resemble Phillip Fulmer than Lane Kiffin.
14 months ago, we wanted change - and despite what's happened in the last two days, I would still say that we needed change - and we hired a guy who was different from the last one in every way. Kiffin was younger, louder, infinitely less experienced and infinitely less familiar with Tennessee Football. And he was never more distant from Phillip than in the way he left.
So when Mike Hamilton - who is feeling a more tangible heat this time around - is looking for the next guy, the idea holds that he'll be thinking of safety and stability more than the need to go younger and make a splash. Some things will always be essential - the guy has to recruit nationally, and of course, he has to inspire confidence that he can win and ultimately have the results that we hope follow - but now Hamilton is much less likely to take a chance on someone the same way he did with Kiffin. And he is much more likely to select someone who will buy in to the Tennessee Family.
This means Tennessee's next coach is more likely to come from the David Cutcliffe pool than the Mike Leach pool.
Brent Hubbs wrote a piece on VolQuest this afternoon that touched on this idea ($):
If anything was learned from the month-long search 15 months ago, it's that you have to have a coach who is not just selling it, but who gets it. That doesn't mean he has to be a Tennessee person or someone who has been a Vol before.
It just has to be a person who understands that when you take a job at a place like Tennessee, you are not just signing up for big checks and long hours. You are committing to a lifestyle.
We thought Lane Kiffin was John Calipari, but perhaps he was Billy Gillispie.
The answer is not to rehire Phillip Fulmer - that's an unrealistic idea, and a bad one too. But Hamilton knows that the next chance he takes could be his last one.
David Cutcliffe is safe. David Cutcliffe is a guy who would make the majority of Tennessee fans nod their heads in agreement - moreso than when Kiffin was hired. David Cutcliffe can recruit because his middle name is Manning. We already know Cutcliffe can handle the x's and o's. And we already know David Cutcliffe is a Tennessee guy.
It doesn't necessarily have to be him. He's just the closest thing to Fulmer's end of the spectrum.
Where does Will Muschamp fall on this continuum? How much of a risk is Troy Calhoun? These are all factors Hamilton must weigh. The coaching staff that was so crucial to Kiffin's hire will probably still look good with Cutcliffe (emphasis offense with on Kippy Brown, Trooper Taylor?) or Muschamp (emphasis on defense with Lance Thompson).
But the odds Hamilton goes far from the norm are much lower this time, especially as far from the norm as Lane Kiffin was last year. Thanks to Kiffin, the pendulum has swung back towards tradition, stability, and integrity. The next move is Mike Hamilton's, who has to find a way to play it both safe enough and right enough to keep his job.
Hamilton's best interests remain Tennessee's best interests for now. Lane Kiffin wasn't the right move for the Vols in the long run. For all of our sakes, hopefully the pendulum stops at the right guy on its way back home.