Home > Bills, buffalo, john beilein, lane kiffin, michigan, newfane, Uncategorized > Kiffin’s and Beilein’s career paths provide new meaning to coaching loyalty

Kiffin’s and Beilein’s career paths provide new meaning to coaching loyalty

by Chris Wendel

Many of us watched is disbelief this week at the surreal scene in Knoxville with Lane Kiffin making the quick exit to LA to replace Pete Carroll at USC. Kiffin’s career path has a Forrest Gump bent to it, parlaying a dismal stay with the Oakland Raiders and a mediocre one season record of 7-6 into a the head coaching spot with USC.

Hidden in the hijinx that ensued with Kiffin this week was the University of Michigan’s announcement that John Beilein signed a long-term contract as the school’s basketball coach. While Kiffin’s departure from Tennessee was ridiculed, some might say that it is no different from Beilein’s job changing pattern.

I bring up Beilein because of his Buffalo area roots. Born and raised in Niagara County’s orchard country (Burt to be exact), Beilein has the distinction of progressing from high school coach to head coach in the Big Ten Conference without ever being an assistant coach.

There is a marked difference between Beilein and Kiffin, however. Since Beilein began coaching in 1976 at Newfane (N.Y.) H.S.), his average stay at one position is about five years, and it would be fair to say that every school he left had a basketball program that was in better shape then when he arrived.

Kiffin’s one-and-done season at Tennessee could be justified by his narrow window of opportunity to accept his “dream job” at USC, but he has to realize how making that choice radically changes how the press and public view his coaching loyalty. The disarray left in Knoxville and the Vol’s inability to secure Kiffin’s replacement is rivaled only by the Buffalo Bills’ ongoing coaching search.

Somehow I felt that Beilein’s acceptance of a new contract means that he’s in Ann Arbor for the long-term. Time will tell if Michigan made the right choice with Beilein, my hunch is that they did.

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