On the surface and in the short term Kifflin’s loss to USC seems to be a terrible thing. But there are a number of reasons why Tenn fans should be happy that Kifflin is leaving.
First, they get rid of:
1. a disloyal, me-first 7-6 coach
2. who embarrassed the university with erroneous public accusations against colleagues
3. who’s likely putting Tenn on probation after only one year as HC
4. who they might need to get rid of anyway before long and after he’s caused even more serious damage to their program, both with regard to the NCAA and their public image.
On top—or should I say rocky-top?—of that, Tenn will get an $800,000 payout from Kifflin.**
Granted, Kifflin’s loss will hurt recruiting.* In regard to their public image, it also gives Tenn a black eye. But black eyes heal over time if you get rid of the guy who’s been punching you.
His ascension to USC HC may seem to be a wonderful thing for him. However,
1. USC will soon be on probation, I think for major violations—Carroll’s timely departure is probably no accident.
2. If the program deteriorates—perhaps not instantly but gradually--as would be expected under NCAA sanctions, then Kifflin will be blamed—big time.
3. He solidifies a growing reputation of being a first-rate jerk and will be vilified in the press after not only leaving Tenn after one year, a couple of weeks before NSD, but also trying to steal Tenn recruits by having his coordinator call players and tell them not to attend class (a pretty outrageous act which should but may not be examined by the NCAA).
4. His reputation as a con-artist rivaled only perhaps by Bernie Madoff, will not help USC recruiting in the long run, no matter how many current advantages he will have at USC (As a parent, would you want your kid to learn values from this guy, on a team already under an NCAA cloud, which has just lost the coach who brought them all the recent victories?)
Regarding USC, the downside would be largely a repeat of the previous 4 points. In addition, they will now have a coach who, on a whim, is more likely to pull a repeat of the Pete Carroll departure than even Pete Carroll himself. That may not sit well with recruits and their parents either. On top of that, even existing players may find themselves needing to take anti-nausea medication to work with this guy. that, I suspect, will lead to transfers.
In summary, it's one thing to say that anybody has the right to act in his own self-interest when given a new opportunity, especially if one's employer has broken his commitments. Every coach must leave eventually. Yet, it's another thing to go around accusing other coaches of doing what you're doing yourself (violating NCAA rules) then violate commitments made to players, coaches,and the school after one year, during which you've run the program into the ground.
I am far from being a Tenn fan, but if I were, I'd say: "good riddance."
*NOTE: The loss of multiple firm commitments has already dropped Tenn about ten places or so in the Scout rankings—incidentally, UM is now again in the top ten, without having signed any new recruits recently.
**Not the previously reported 8 million as per correction below of AMaizinBlue--THX.