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Question of the day: Is Tennessee making too big a deal over the USC hiring of Kennedy Pola? [Updated]

July 27, 2010 | 12:00 pm

Reporters from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Joseph Schwerdt, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Titans_300 A lawsuit? Really? A breach of contract claim? Seriously? Over hiring an assistant running backs coach?

Yes, the Tennessee Titans are suing USC and Lane Kiffin for luring Kennedy Pola to the Trojans a week before training camp opens. And although Pola may develop into the greatest coach since George Halas, legal action seems a bit extreme for someone in his position.

But the real issue here is Kiffin, who always seems to play the role of the pebble in someone’s shoe. First, it was his childish behavior at the University of Tennessee accusing rivals of cheating and talking them down to recruits. Then it was the way he bolted UT after one season for the USC job.

So, on second thought, perhaps a lawsuit over Pola’s poaching is appropriate, if only to make Kiffin have to walk a bit with a pebble in his shoe.

Andrea Adelson, Orlando Sentinel

Usc_200 If this was any other coach, the Tennessee Titans would be making too much over the way USC hired Kennedy Pola. But we are talking about Lane Kiffin, a man who has shown a complete disregard for decorum, ethics and professionalism to the very coaches in his profession.

Kiffin took one potshot after another at SEC coaches during his brief tenure at Tennessee, incorrectly accusing several of cheating. He had problems with his strength and conditioning coach in Knoxville, firing him after six months on the job. When he and assistant Ed Orgeron left for USC, Orgeron allegedly called their Tennessee recruits and asked them to come along to Los Angeles -- just weeks before signing day.

This is simply karma coming back at Kiffin. The appropriate way to inquire about an assistant is to give word to the head coach or athletic director first. Once again, Kiffin flouted the rules. Tennessee has every right to unleash its full fury on him and his school.

[Updated at 1:10 p.m.:

Keith Groller, The Allentown Morning Call

Being in charge of BP’s environmental protection program is an easier gig than defending USC these days, and yet the Titans’ lawsuit against Lane Kiffin and Co. seems over the top.

Are they just trying to get more UT fans to Nashville? Isn’t Kennedy Pola the real villain here -- and since when did Pola become the apple of everyone’s eye?

The suit would seem to only have a chance of succeeding where it was filed —Tennessee's Davidson County Chancery court — an area where Gen. Grant and President Lincoln are probably more fondly remembered than Kiffin.

It may have been unprofessional, as Jeff Fisher said, ill-timed considering the sanctions, and unfair to newly named USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, who didn’t need this on his image-restoration agenda.

But malicious? This is the NFL and major-college football, where everyone has a price and sleazy exits can be deemed business as usual.]

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

Well, there's a new one on me: "maliciously intending" to induce a coach to leave one job for another, but there's no time like yesterday, today and tomorrow to throw the book at USC Coach Lane Kiffin.

Why would the Tennessee Titans file a lawsuit against Kiffin for luring running backs coach Kennedy Pola from the Tennessee Titans to USC?

First, it's easy, and it's popular, even if it might be true.  Suing Kiffin in Tennessee is a platform as feel-good as a candidate in Knoxville pledging lower taxes and more country music--you can't lose.

Kiffin is vilified in Tennessee for a variety of reasons,  most recently for bolting the University of Tennessee after one year to take the USC job. Tennessee state troopers ought to paint a moustache on Kiffin's mug and post it in the post office.

Kiffin deserves most of what he gets because he brings it on himself. The man seems incapable of having a routine day and appears to rub everyone the wrong way. His life reminds me of the classic blues song refrain, "Nobody loves me but my mother, and she might be jiving me too."

Without knowing the full merits of the lawsuit, though, this seems like political expediency, headline grabbing and perhaps legal overkill. It certainly makes the Titans and Coach Jeff Fisher more popular, not a bad thing considering Fisher is a former USC Trojan and probably could have had Kiffin's job had he wanted it.

It seems to me teams "maliciously intend" to steal coaches all the time, but I'm no Clarence Darrow. Didn't USC already try this by trying to maliciously lure UCLA assistant Coach Norm Chow back to Heritage Hall? I can't fathom, had it happened, UCLA filing a lawsuit against its arch rival.

Remember, though, it's always "Throw Lane Kiffin to the Sharks Week" on cable, so anything goes.

Yet to be determined is whether this latest escapade is just Monkey business or the Monkey Trial. If there is a trial, though, book me a seat up front.
 
--Chris Dufresne

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