Lane Kiffin seems to stay in the headlines of college football these days. The former Tennessee head coach seems to be having the time of his life at FAU in the low pressure, laid back Boca Raton atmosphere.
Kiffin has been pretty forthcoming around the country during various radio interviews. His latest appearance came on the Bo Mattingly sports talk show. He dropped an interesting nugget for us to discuss, saying that he nearly took the Arkansas job. Here’s the quote from footballscoop.com.
Mattingly: “When we’ve followed your career over the years here in Arkansas, there’s been a few times when your name has popped up for the Arkansas job. One of the times, I think, was when Bobby Petrino ended up taking the job. Have you ever been a step away from the Arkansas job?”
Kiffin: “Without getting into too much detail, I was very close to coming there one time. I won’t get into detail why we would not come or could not come, but it was very close to happening.” (H/T to Football Scoop)
So how does this affect Tennessee? Kiffin took the Vols’ gig after Phillip Fulmer stepped down following the 2008 season. Arkansas was also open at that time, which seems like the most logical point that Kiffin would be referring to here. (For the sake of argument, just go with it.)
What if Lane did take the Arkansas job in 2008? Where would that leave Tennessee? How would it have reshaped the last decade?
Would Gary Patterson be next on Tennessee’s list? The TCU head man spoke about an interview with the Vols, but it’s unclear how high he was on Tennessee’s list. Patterson has been a model of consistency since, establishing TCU as one of the better programs in the country and showing up in the national title picture every few years.
Would Brian Kelly get in the mix? He had just led Cincinnati to their second straight 10 win season and ended up getting the Bearcats to the Orange Bowl. Of course, he went undefeated the next year and landed the Notre Dame job.
Could Mike Hamilton have tried to pluck Charlie Strong away from Urban Meyer at Florida? We know they tried to get him away from Louisville before settling for Butch Jones years later.
The possibilities are endless. Kiffin ended up taking the Tennessee job, of course, setting off a decade of instability within the Tennessee football program. Derek Dooley and Butch Jones followed — and now here we are with Fulmer now in the athletics director spot with his choice in Jeremy Pruitt as head coach.
So what do you think? Would Tennessee have been better off if Kiffin had taken the Arkansas job? Who would Mike Hamilton have hired?