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Lane Kiffin leaves Tennessee for USC job, takes Monte Kiffin with him

When Lane Kiffin was hired as Tennessee coach last year, he promised to beat the Gators and sing Rocky Top afterward. Now he'll have to settle for singing USC's fight song after beating Pac-10 rivals.

After one season at Tennessee, Kiffin is returning to Southern California as the Trojans' coach, taking his father, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, with him.

Kiffin, 34, was chosen Tuesday to replace Pete Carroll, his mentor for six seasons, when Kiffin was Trojans offensive coordinator.

"This was not an easy decision," Kiffin said Tuesday night on Tennessee's campus. "This is something that happens very quick. We've been here 14 months, and the support has been unbelievable here. I really believe the only place I would have left here to go was … Southern California."

Longtime USC assistant Ed Orgeron will leave Tennessee to join Kiffin, USC said.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that students and fans marched into the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex, chanting obscenities at Kiffin as he talked to players. Among the tamer signs: We Hate L. Kiffin.

Fire officials and university police arrived as students burned mattresses and gathered in hopes of blocking Kiffin from leaving. It was not clear if Kiffin was still on campus.

"The Rock," a boulder on which students often paint happy messages, had obscenities directed toward Kiffin.

Carroll took over the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday.

"We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC," Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett said. "I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us, and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose."

Kiffin went 7-6 at Tennessee last season (0-1 against the Gators) as the youngest head coach in Division I, and he brought an unwelcome spotlight with several minor NCAA violations. After Tennessee's season ended with a loss to Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Kiffin said: "I know there's a ton of excitement about what we're doing, and we're just getting started."

Kiffin owed an $800,000 buyout to Tennessee for leaving early. He told his players about his abrupt departure moments before reading his statement.

He returns to USC with the school facing a yearslong NCAA investigation over events during his tenure as an assistant, including Reggie Bush's final years at the school. Discipline is widely expected to arrive this year.

Orgeron is likely to return to his role as the Trojans' best recruiter. Monte Kiffin, the longtime Bucs defensive coordinator, will lead the defense.

Tennessee named assistant Kippy Brown interim coach.

"I want to thank Coach Kiffin for his work with our program this past year," Vols athletic director Mike Hamilton said, promising a quick search.

Florida: Safety Major Wright said he won't return for his senior season. He is projected as a first-round NFL pick. "I will always be a Gator," said Wright, joining juniors Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap, Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Hernandez in departing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State said it will close next season with a Nov. 20 game at UF.

Lane Kiffin leaves Tennessee for USC job, takes Monte Kiffin with him 01/12/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 8:17am]
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