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UT Turns Down Shot At USC

Lane Kiffin and the folks associated with the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta recently tried to line up a Southern Cal versus Tennessee matchup for next year’s season-opener.

Not surprisingly, Tennessee declined.

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton told ESPN, “We told (USC) we could play ‘em in a few years but we can’t make it work with our schedule next year.”

Hamilton said Gary Stokan — the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game president — initially contacted him, but added that Kiffin had sent him “some text messages about the proposal.”

I bet he did.  No one knows the devastated state of the Tennessee football program better than Kiffin.  He knows exactly what the Volunteers have — and don’t have — on their roster these days.

While some Vol fans would surely love to get a shot at Kiffin, next year might be just a tad too soon into Derek Dooley’s rebuilding project.  Also, UT plays Cincinnati and North Carolina as non-conference games in 2011.  Adding USC (and eight SEC foes) would make for one beast of a schedule.

So why would Kiffin want to take on the Vols?  If you put yourself in his shoes, you’d probably think that you did nothing wrong in recent months:

1.  Kiffin took his dream job and would not have left Tennessee for any other gig (or so he says).

2.  Kiffin put UT back on the media map during his one brief year in Knoxville (as if they’d fallen totally out of the national spotlight).

3.  There was nothing wrong with Kiffin’s staff talking to his old UT recruits when they asked for advice in the immediate aftermath of his departure from Knoxville.

4.  Meanwhile, UT fans threatened Kiffin’s wife and family.

5.  And now Dooley and staff are trying to raid a Trojan roster opened up by NCAA sanctions.

If you believe all that — and Kiffin probably does — then you, too, might want a crack at your old school.  “Why, I’ll show them!”

But as I’ve said a thousand times now, it’s probably best for both parties if Kiffin and Tennessee simply go their separate ways for a while.

Hamilton made the wise call on this one.  UT can’t afford risking a Dooley loss to Kiffin on national television.  Not yet anyway.

 


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