On Thursday, the Tennessee Volunteers struck out again in their coaching search, as NC State head coach Dave Doeren elected to stay put with the Wolfpack while being armed with a new contract. That, along with a string of high-profile gaffes, has helped to make the situation in Knoxville but toxic and amusing and, later in the day, ESPN’s Paul Finebaum was prompted about the remainder of the search by Bob Ley on Outside The Lines.
“I think you just saw what would be the most popular answer,” Finebaum said. “If John Currie picked up the phone and called Lane Kiffin right now, it would be universally accepted. It would be the coaching hire of the year. And I don’t know why he doesn’t. Maybe he wasn’t his first choice, or second, but we’re now down to the G-list. There’s no longer an A, B and C… I’ve covered college football for more than 30 years and I’ve never seen a coaching search that has been this embarrassing.”
There is no question that Kiffin would be a polarizing hire, especially in light of the way he has poked fun at the program in recent days. Still, his approval rating just might be high enough to assuage the big-picture concerns in Knoxville and, right about now, that would be a huge win.
However, Tennessee’s athletic department still may not have interest in Kiffin returning as head coach. Kiffin said as much in an interview on Thursday, saying that his agent pitched his name in a routine call to Tennessee, only to be told that the Tennessee brass wasn’t interested in Kiffin’s services.
After three years as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Kiffin is in his first season as the Florida Atlantic head coach, where his Owls are 9-3 and set to play in the C-USA title game against North Texas.