Posts Tagged ‘Oakland Raiders’
Well, I am beginning to think that some of my concerns about the loss of the “family” feeling at Tennessee due to the departure of the Great Punkin may have been unfounded. It appears that Coach Kiffin is dead set on keeping the family side of Tennessee alive—albeit in a slightly different way than I envisioned.
The more I look at things the more the Tennessee Athletic Department mirrors the Soprano family…
[singlepic id=905 w=540 mode=web20 float=center][caption id="" align="alignright" width="111" caption="James Cregg"][/caption]
Thus far, Coach Kiffin has been more than happy to keep it “inside the family,” hiring both his father, Monte Kiffin (longtime defensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) as well as his brother-in-law David Reaves (Steve Spurrier’s quarterbacks’ coach / recruiting coordinator at South Carolina). On top of this, last week he added an additional hire off the South Carolina Gamecocks’ staff in the form of new strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith, along with new offensive line coach James Cregg, who served under the Blackjack General when Kiffin was coaching the Los Angeles Oakland Raiders, and was currently working under Raiders’ coach Tom Cable.
So, is all of this a good thing, or a bad thing?
Well, I am honestly not sure. That said, I like the fact that Kiffin seems to have a plan about what it is he is trying to accomplish—he’s not just randomly selecting coaches that are “available.” In fact, with the exception of the few members of Coach Fulmer’s staff that Kiffin has retained, none of the coaches he has added to his first staff have been “available,” as Tom Cable plainly noted. It is nice to be back in the position as a program to be able to pull people away from other programs, instead of the opposite.
Furthermore, thus far the choices that Kiffin has made to assist him in his first campaign at Tennessee appear to be quality hires. First of all there is the Full Monte, who is the "Godfather" of the Tampa 2 defense and arguably the best defensive coordinator in the toughest football league in the world. The venerable patriarch.
Okay, I think that can work…
Then, there is Mark Smith, who was thought by many to be one of Spurrier’s indispensable aides at both Florida and with the Thunder Chickens. In the past, it was thought that Smith would never leave Spurrier due to the fact he rejected overtures from, among others, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Smith has been at the heart of every successful team that Spurrier has fielded.
Apparently, Smith decided that loyalty to Spurrier could not overcome the pull of “the family”…[caption id="" align="alignright" width="96" caption="David Reaves"][/caption]
Then there is Reaves, who was been surprisingly successful as the Head Ball Coach’s recruiting coordinator, a fact that Tennessee fans had been acutely aware of over the last few years. Obviously, as Lane Kiffin’s brother-in-law it is hardly surprising that Reaves decided to head to more orange-tinted pastures. Still, Spurrier has never been one to let his coaches or recruits go to others quietly. Thus, it also appears that there is about to be a second-round of the Tennessee vs. Spurrier battles that marked the early-to-mid 1990’s—the rumblings are already out there.
Ahh, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…
If (and that is a big “if”) you trust the rumors, the oft maligned Ed Orgeron (currently serving as defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints) is next up for Kiffin as he works toward filling out his staff. Coach “O” did not exactly wow the world with his performance as head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, but continues to be thought of as one of the premier defensive line coaches and a crackerjack recruiter. Given that all of the rumors of Monte Kiffin joining “Kiffin the Younger,” proved accurate, it appears that the chances are good that “O” will be “hnaw-hnawing” on the sidelines in Neyland Stadium this fall.
Now whether ticking off NFL owners and other SEC coaches is a bad thing, I cannot say. I will say that it is nice to see Lane Kiffin out using his credibility and Tennessee’s tradition to get the people he needs. While I realize there is something to be said for extending certain courtesies to other coaches and teams, sometimes you have to simply make folks an “offer they can’t refuse” and let the chips fall where they may. This is especially true when it comes to re-tooling a program that has bottomed-out of late. Kiffin, responding to questions regarding his tactics, summed it quite matter-of-factly:
“I got a job to do in our athletic department and that’s to put together the best staff we can put together and the best players we can put together. I’m not really concerned about that stuff.”
• via: GoVolsXtra
Kiffin’s coaching-coups, appear to be making a difference as well, as Tennessee has now sewn-up several choice recruits, and appears to be getting the inside track on several more.
So far, so good. Is Kiffin going in the right direction? I think so. Is he destined for greatness? Only time will tell. Is there plenty more to be done to cement Tennessee’s position as a contender once again for the SEC? You better believe it. Is Kiffin done mixing it up with the other coaches across the country yet?
Images Courtesy of: Raiders.com • GameCocksOnline.com
Information contained in this post courtesy of: Volquest.com • GoVolsXtra
"This is our world. If I can speak freely here, it's about pride, it's about commitment, it's about trusting everybody next to you. So, to walk your ass out of here is about as bad a deal as you could possibly do to that group of guys."
Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable on Lane Kiffin hiring staff away from the Raiders
Now, I guess Tom Cable not only has to coach the Raiders, but also has to do Davis' laundry. Oh well...
I suppose a new tradition is beginning.
Due to the fact that I have been so tied up lately with annoyingly distracting things such as trials, work, and earning a living, I forgot to mention one key point that must be remembered about new Tennessee Volunteers head football coach Lane Kiffin: He’s the 21st head coach for the Volunteers…
That’s right, lucky number …
Now I am not by nature a superstitious person … except when it comes to college sports. Yeah, I’m one of those types that has certain routines which cannot be broken without risking disaster. I have, at various times, had lucky shirts, shorts, ticket stubs, socks, and so forth. I could even tell you the win/loss “record” of most of those items. My father had a lucky outfit which he wore to every game from 1994-the early 2000s. In 2005 he retired after he decided the “mojo” was gone. At present, all of my luck, magic, gri-gri, or whatever you call it is focused on my lucky gameday towel, which I keep tucked into my belt at all times on football Saturdays.
Anyway, I just realized that Coach Kiffin—perhaps—has a date with destiny, due to the fact that he is the 21st coach of the Vols, which is a good omen. You see, we here at Gate 21 are sort of partial to the number 21, for reasons which are—I presume—fairly obvious. It is our lucky number. Thus, maybe—just maybe—this is sign from the Fates of Football, a beacon telling all of Orange Nation that Coach Kiffin will usher in a new era of success for the Big Orange unlike any that Tennessee fans have ever known.
Of course it could also mean that—just like Gate 21—he will be a perpetual bore, wasting amazing amounts of time, considerable sums of money, promising much, but delivering little.
Yeah, I’m going with choice number one too…
Either way, this (unbelievably and irrationally razor-thin) connection between Coach Kiffin and the Gate is forever cemented in my mind. Oh yeah, I’m feeling the vibe … Lucky Number 21, our luck-fueled general on the field leading the orange-clad warriors to victory.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel another addition to the Gate 21 Lexicon (uhh … that’s my “list ‘o words”) and another moniker or nickname being bestowed. Now, along with Bruce and the Barbarians, the Great Punkin, Smiling Mike, the Tommy Bowl, the Big Dickey, Bruce Almighty, and other exercises in the creative abuse of the English language, I give you Lucky Number 21:
“The Blackjack General”
I figured that name sums up the role Coach Kiffin has assumed at Tennessee: a gambler at heart, a guy who will face a stacked deck from the start, and a guy who may have to do a little bluffing along the way. It acknowledges his past with the Raiders and Bea Arthur Al Davis (e.g. everything they wear is, uhh… black), while focusing on the next task at hand. It acknowledges that traditions of Tennessee and General Neyland, while making it clear it is a new day. Furthermore, in all those old cowboy movies, the Blackjack dealer always wore a visor. More than anything, it embraces good luck in the form of “21”.
The Blackjack General, Lane Kiffin, Gate 21, and some moron with a blog named “Lawvol”—yeah, I like it. Cause that’s how we roll…
Clearly, I’ve lost my mind. I have really got to stop sleeping next to the microwave…
Who is Smarter, Smiling Mike or Bea Arthur? (or A Few Belated Comments on the Hiring of Coach Kiffin)
Alright, I admit I have been a little absent and not just a little bent out of shape over the fact that I have been completely unable to post anything of substance lately due to my “real” job as an evidence manipulation specialist (lawyer). Hence my last post. What’s more, this has been a very exciting week for fans of the Big Orange, as Tennessee named Lane Kiffin its new head football coach. Despite all of the fanfare, I spent my week in a courtroom, and failed to get a single decent comment out in a timely fashion.
Again, hence my last post…
That said, after watching a few video clips, most notably the one below, I am feeling much more relaxed and much happier. Why? Because, I am beginning to think that maybe Smiling Mike has done it again.
I’ll be the first to admit, Lane Kiffin wasn’t the number one name on my list—but make no mistake he was on it. Still, in the back of my mind I wondered “is Mike Hamilton rushing into things? I just don’t know if I would have been in such a rush.”
Then I remembered two key things:
- I picked the Auburn Tigers to win the SEC West and the Tennessee Volunteers to finish second in the SEC East this year; and
- Bruce Pearl.
Those two realizations gave me a moment of pause and suddenly gave me real confidence in the decision to hire Lane Kiffin as the head football coach at Tennessee.
The first point reminded me that I am a moron and that my skills as a prognosticator and student of college football are about as reliable as Eric Locke was as a receiver (or kick returner, or cheerleader, or ditch digger, or…). Furthermore, it reminded me that there is an awful lot of guesswork in the business or picking coaches. Which led me to point number two.[caption id="" align="alignright" width="271" caption="Smiling Mike dares you to make fun of his shirt"][/caption]
As I wrote some time ago while serving as a stand-in guest writer over at Joel’s venerable pillar of the Fifth Estate, on the day Bruce Pearl was introduced as Men’s Basketball coach the first thing I asked myself was “who the hell is Bruce Pearl?” Well, suffice it to say that I now know who Bruce Pearl is, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the basketball loving inhabitants of the country do now as well. The point is this: love him or hate him, over the last few years Mike Hamilton has shown an uncanny ability to find coaches about as well as anyone in the world of college sports, and as a result, I’m willing to trust his decision.
I think Hamilton has earned that.
Furthermore, what I have seen so far from Coach Kiffin (does kind of have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) has thoroughly impressed me. The video above was especially telling for me. Why? Because Kiffin does not talk about “the passion of Tennessee’s fans” or “the tradition they have here.” No, instead—about ten minutes after he was named head coach—he comments on “the passion of our fans” and “the tradition we have here.”
I know, I know, I’m sure the folks in the Sports Information office reminded him to project that message, but you know what, it seemed pretty sincere to me…
I realize taking “ownership” verbally is a small detail—one which can be overstated—but it impressed me. I honestly expected the typical “NFL-style” quasi-corporate speech about future, direction, and leadership. I expected his opening foray with the press to be far less personal than it was. Given my concerns that the “family” aspect of Tennessee football might fade away with the departure of the Great Punkin, this really did my heart good. It also made it clear that Coach Kiffin understands that we happy few, we band of brothers, who wear the Orange are sort of “into” that whole “Tradition” thing.
All I can say is that I first looked at the hiring of Coach Kiffin with a lot of hope and expectation, and a near equal amount of concern and reticence. After seeing how he has handled himself so far, it’s fair to say that I have been impressed.
Yeah, I’ve got me a great big pitcher of the proverbial Kool-Aid, and I’m chugging it down through a garden hose…
I guess that is why I felt led to say hello to Coach Kiffin visually—in the header here at the Gate—rather than simply saying “Oh, um, yeah we got us a coach.”
No matter what I may have thought about the past, I am pretty convinced that Coach Kiffin is the the right man to guide Tennessee into the future.
Which leads me to the seemingly inane title of this post.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of professional sports and while I typically follow the NFL playoffs in a limited sense, I can hardly be said to keep up with the league. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the end result is that I am often less than informed when it comes to the guys that play on Sunday. Thus, the only real understanding I had when it came to Coach Kiffin was that he had been fired as head coach of the Los Angeles … err … Oakland … Los Ang … Los Oaklesland Raiders mid-season. I didn’t really hold this against him, because I realize how fickle NFL owners can be. Furthermore, I hardly felt like I had enough background knowledge to really even understand why he was fired (I had to check just to confirm whether the Raiders were in Los Angeles or Oakland this year).
Still, I knew that something hadn’t worked out the way it had been planned…
Then, I stumbled upon this little jewel:
This video really confirmed a few things for me:
- Skeletor is real;
- The Raiders will never win much of anything until that nut-job of an owner they have gives it up;
- Anytime a coach is fired and respected journalists write things like this, it’s probably not the coach’s fault the team is sucking the tubes:
Al Davis’ once-proud franchise has won 19 games since appearing in the 2002 Super Bowl (or one more than the Patriots won in 2007) and better days seemed even more remote in January. That’s when the modest momentum built under new head coach Lane Kiffin in 2007 was flushed when it was learned Davis wanted Kiffin gone because Kiffin wanted to, ya know, coach the team…
- Coach Kiffin’s record as an NFL head coach is of little concern to me considering the situation he inherited; and
- Bea Arthur really should stop wearing those silly black leather jackets and sweatshirts when giving press conferences.
So, is Betty White currently the defensive coordinator for the Raiders, or is it one of the other Golden Girls?
Anyway, the point of this rambling post is simply to say, that I am thrilled to have Lane Kiffin on board as the newest member of the Tennessee family. So far, I have been amazingly impressed with the way he has jumped in headfirst at Tennessee. Most of all, however, I am happy with how he seems to really want be at Tennessee as opposed to simply biding his time.
Of course, I realize that he has not yet completed his first full week as head coach. Still, all I can say is that—so far—it seems like Smiling Mike Hamilton may have gotten it right…again!
Either way, Coach Kiffin, I mean it sincerely when I say “Welcome to the Family!”
Oh yeah, and, Go Vols!