Wiedmer: Kiffin must be stopped

Wiedmer: Kiffin must be stopped

July 26th, 2010 by Mark Wiedmer in Opinion Columns

The only act of indecency left for Lane Kiffin is to desecrate Graceland.

What's with this punk anyway? You'd think the Volunteer state quit on him instead of the other way around.

Wasn't it cruel enough to embarrass Tennessee football fans and anger Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive for 13 straight months before kissing the Vols good-bye three weeks from signing day?

Or perhaps it was Kiffin's ham-handed gesture to place UT on the schedule of his new employer, the University of Southern California that raised your blood pressure 15 or 20 points.

Now comes news that he has lured Tennessee Titans running backs coach Kennedy Pola away from the Music City exactly one week before training camp without so much as a courtesy call to Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who also just happens to be a fairly high-profile and loyal USC alum.

"I am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism on behalf of Lane," said Fisher, who praised Kiffin when the Vols hired him. "To call me and leave me a voice mail after Kennedy had informed me he had taken the job. ... I don't know (Lane) well, so I am not going to pass judgment on his character. But I am surprised."

Of course, if Kiffin weren't involved in this you could argue that karma prevailed on this occasion. After all, Fisher was so thrilled with running back Chris Johnson's 2,006 rushing yards last season that he fired his position coach - Earnest Byner - in favor of Pola, who both played and coached at Southern Cal.

Even Fisher admitted Saturday, "I can't fault anybody for having an opportunity like (Pola) has," to become USC's offensive coordinator.

But that doesn't mean it's not time for Fisher to stop favoring his alma mater. Or is there a Titans fan anywhere willing to lead a cheer for former Trojans - and Titans - Mike Williams, Norm Chow, LenDale White and, however briefly, Pola?

Not that anybody should stop faulting Boy Troy for another monumental lapse of respect, etiquette and professional ethics.

For those who remember the movie Wall Street, Kiffin is the Gordon Gekko of the coaching community. Most everyone can recall Gekko's signature line, "Greed is good," but a less known one perfectly sums up Kiffin.

Asked by the Charlie Sheen character, Bud Fox, why Gekko felt the need to wreck the company that employed Fox's dad, Gekko replied, "Because it's wreckable, all right?"

So leaving Tennessee in the lurch after a single 7-6 season and a few possible NCAA violations was OK because he could. Tweaking the Vols with that possible revenge game was OK because he could. Now stealing away the Titans' running backs coach one week from training camp is OK because he can.

And until or unless new USC athletic director Pat Hayden reins Kiffin in, his questionable behavior will continue unabated, much as it always has.

But there's another side to these actions where the Titans are concerned that also surfaced on Saturday. It seems that despite 10 years of loyal, faithful, productive service, linebacker Keith Bulluck was allowed to sign a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the New York Giants without so much as a courtesy phone call from the Titans.

There's little question that Bulluck is nearing the downside of his career, and he did tear an ACL last December. But he's also the franchise's third leading tackler all-time with 1,265, was never a problem off the field and probably still has at least two good years left for a team still in need of his leadership.

Or as Bulluck's agent Gary Wichard said, "I think he would have at least liked to have heard somebody in Tennessee say, 'Hey, we'd like to talk to you about coming back.' After all the things he did and success he had."

But the Titans never called. Just like Kiffin never called before the fact. It seems that courtesy is in short apply all over the place these days.

Still, just to be safe, if I were McKee Bakery I'd make sure Lane Kiffin couldn't find Little Debbie with a GPS device or a bloodhound.