Remember when Lane Kiffin was a serious topic of discussion for some Vols fans during the latest coaching search?
As it turns out, the former Vols coach and current Florida Atlantic head man did receive word on his status for a potential return to Tennessee in the tumultuous days prior to Jeremy Pruitt being named the head coach on Rocky Top.
According to a report from Gridiron Now’s Mark Nagi, who recently spoke to Kiffin for an upcoming book on Tennessee football, former Vols athletic director John Currie told super agent Jimmy Sexton that his client would “never be the head coach” at Tennessee as long as he was in charge.
“What normally happens in those things is when jobs come open, there is usually communication with the agent and the athletic director,” Kiffin said in a phone interview earlier this week. “The agent says something like, ‘Hey, I got these eight to 10 guys; what do you think about this guy here or there?’ … Then the AD says, ‘I want to interview those two guys; those sound good.’
“In that conversation with [agent] Jimmy Sexton — who has a million guys obviously, so it’s not just about me, it’s about all the guys — … [then-Tennessee athletic director] John Currie says, ‘Lane will never be the head coach as long as I’m the athletics director here.’ So once he said that, I didn’t think about it. So that kind of answered that.”
The humor in that situation, of course, is that Currie was only the athletics director for a short period of time before he was removed from his post and replaced by former Vols head coach Phillip Fulmer.
Fulmer, who went on to conduct his own search and hire Pruitt away from Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama, was certainly another dead-end for the possibility of a second stint in Knoxville. After all, Kiffin was the coach hired to replace Fulmer in Knoxville after the 2008 season. Those wounds don’t heal easily.
It’s fascinating to relive the wild ride that was the Tennessee coach search, which involved rumors of Jon Gruden, the almost-hires of Greg Schiano and Jeff Brohm, the emergence of Kiffin and Mike Leach as rumored names of interest, the firing of Currie, the hiring of Fulmer and the ultimate selection of Pruitt as Butch Jones’ replacement all packed into just a matter of weeks.
Nagi has it right. A book probably should be written about those experiences.
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