The Kiffpocalypse Is Upon Us

So, I'm a pretty big football fan.

Living in Knoxville, you sort of have to be. Otherwise, you'll just think you're surrounded by idiots who love the color orange for fun on Saturdays in the fall.

Five years ago, the University of Tennessee fired long-time, National Championship winning football coach Phil Fulmer.

Fulmer was viewed by many as "past his coaching prime". A graduate and former player of the University of Tennessee, Fulmer left by most accounts as a class-act. Bowing out gracefully and finishing his coaching career in Knoxville with a 152-52 record. (Not bad, right?)

Phil Fulmer with the 1998 National Championship Trophy

Shortly after Fulmer's season ended, the University announced they were hiring Lane Kiffin. A young, boisterous, some might say "pompous" former NFL head coach.

And he was bringing his smokin' hot wife, Layla, with him.

The Kiffins with Mike Hamilton at the introductory press conference
The introductory press conference. Courtesy:
What unfolded over the next five years may be the biggest and saddest tale detailing a relationship between a single man in a community you will ever hear.

Immediately upon his hire, Kiffin was a media darling by most accounts.

He accused other conference coaches of breaking NCAA rules. He pushed all the right buttons, claiming that Tennessee's team couldn't wait to sing "Rocky Top" all the way back from Gainesville after beating the Gators (they lost 23-13).

It was a beautiful fit for the local media. Kiffin was the exact opposite of Phil Fulmer so it played well that this young, edgy coach could come in and bring new life to a football program that had gone 11 years since winning a national title.

Heck, shortly after he took the job, he even named his first-born son "Knox", in honor of Knoxville and Knox County, the community he planned to be at "for a long time".
Layla Kiffin with her oldest son Knox
Yes, I could have found a photo of Lane with Baby Knox, but who wants to see him?

Then, it all came crashing down. Seemingly out of nowhere.

After one 7-6 season, Kiffin then made himself the most hated man in East Tennessee. A child of privilege (son of a famous of NFL assistant coach) and carrier of white-swagger. (White swagger is similar to black swagger but funnier) Kiffin couldn't sit outside the bright lights of a major media market for long.

In January 2010, Lane Kiffin hastily left his position as head coach of my community's beloved Tennessee Volunteers football team to take his "dream job" at the University of Southern California.

A Tennessee fans up a "We Hate Lane Kiffin" sign

Chaos reigned the night news broke in Knoxville as students burned mattresses, the community angrily couldn't understand what just hapened and the media attempted to get Kiffin on the record before he got on a private jet bound for Southern Cal.

Seen as cowardice by most, Kiffin turned his back on a community that identifies most with its college football program. All that was left for Volunteer fans as solace was a loss in the Chick-Fil-A bowl and the promise of glory days that Kiffin's leadership never brought to fruition.

Kiffin coached for four years in Los Angeles and probably earned a boatload of money. USC is a private school so you never can figure out exactly how well they compensate most of their employees. Kiff-Daddy finished with a 28-15 record at USC and even won the (then) Pac-10 South in 2011.

the stadium that is home to the University of Southern California Trojans
The home of the USC Trojans in Los Angeles.
But after a 3-2 start in 2013 with a back-to-back conference losses that put him at 4-7 in his most recent 11 games, USC canned him before he boarded the team bus in Tempe, Arizona. Whammy.

For most Tennesseans, it was karma and cause for celebration. This was, after all, proof that God was listening. Kiffin landed his dream job and was fired under ugly circumstances.

They (whomever "they" are) say, "Time heals all wounds".

Moe's Sign in Knoxville - Lane Kiffin Never Heard of Her

But not in SEC country, apparently.

Since USC showed him the door, Kiffin has once again landed a coaching gig. This time in Tuscaloosa, Alabama under Nick Saban as Offensive Coordinator of the powerhouse University of Alabama football team.

This Saturday (October 25) Kiffin will return to Tennessee for what is likely his first time on Appalachian soil since the scent of burning mattresses filled the air on campus.

It's a night game, which is fitting since most Knoxvillians remember Kiffin's departure as happening under the cover of night. (Although, he may have actually flown out with the sun shining).

I would not be surprised if there is an additional police presence around campus for this game. 

Lane Kiffin's image in the Sunsphere
I'm not sure of the original source on this. I'll site @MarkNagi as the source but I don't think it's his.
It's kind of a running joke that the most hated many in Tennessee is a former coach who only lived in the state one year.

However, it's remarkable that after 3 years of Derek Dooley and in Butch Jones' second year as Tennessee's Head Coach there seem to be people who love hating Lane Kiffin as much, if not more than they love Tennessee football.

They wanted to name a wastewater treatment center after the guy, using his name in mudslinging political ads and still have a sour taste in their mouth after the coach left town.

They're even going after Kiffin for the $14 haircut he allegedly didn't pay for before leaving town:

So while most of East Tennessee will be at Neyland Stadium this weekend, pitchforks in hand, I will be in a bomb shelter. (Unless Layla Kiffin is making the trip, then I'll be on campus in a tux).

The Kiffpocalypse is nearly upon us and in a town where college football is king, there is no way this is going to end well.

Canned goods, ammunition and water bottle donations are welcomed.