Be Angry At Lane Kiffin, But Don't Be Surprised. He Made The Right Move, And It Was Obvious.
Tennessee students rioted after Lane Kiffin announced that he was leaving Tennessee to go become the head coach at USC, where he was an assistant for 6 years under Pete Carroll. It's understandable, because college kids are a pretty impulsive, emotional bunch, and their coach was leaving them for so-called greener pastures, after only one year in Knoxville.
They painted the UT Rock [and it's NSFW] to make their feelings known about Kiffin's departure. But in reality, should Tennessee be surprised that this happened? I don't think so. Kiffin came up through the USC coaching program, and worked wonders. In one year, he changed the program. They were in decline, but he instantly brought them back to relevance, and they were able to legitimately compete with teams like Florida and Alabama. Sure, they didn't beat them. Not this year, at least. But Kiffin had them going in the right direction.
The map to the right is from ESPN's SportsNation poll, asking how successful Kiffin will be at USC. Obviously, most of the country thinks that he'll be at least mildly successful. The jaded folks in Tennessee, however, voted the opposite.
Obviously, Tennessee's reaction shows that he's a good coach, and they know it. That's why LSU was upset when Nick Saban left. It's why Louisville was upset when Bobby Petrino left. And of course, it's why USC is upset about Pete Carroll leaving.
In the end, it should be no surprise at all that Kiffin chose USC over Tennessee. It doesn't make him a bad person. It doesn't make him disloyal. If anything, it makes it clear that he's loyal to USC. That's where he spent his time before he even got to Tennessee, and he was at USC a lot longer than he was in Tennessee. Not to mention the simple fact that USC is the better job.
If given the choice between Knoxville, Tennessee and Southern California, the choice is easy for most people. Especially for someone who lived there for years and played his college ball in Fresno.
Let's also remember that USC, despite a down year in 2009, is at the top of the heap when it comes to Pac-10 football. Even at their best, Tennessee will still lag behind Florida, Alabama and perhaps LSU. USC, on the other hand, can compete with anyone in their conference, even in a bad year. Even with the potential sanctions, USC will be the better spot for Kiffin over the next 5 years than anywhere else in the country.
You might not like the way he left Tennessee, but there's no doubt that this was the best move for Lane Kiffin and his family... and you really shouldn't be surprised.