Tennessee's embarrassment with the Lane Kiffin mess should serve as a wakeup call to every big-time college football program, including Penn State.
The message: Do your homework and protect yourself before making the most important hire at the university.
Administrators need to know everything there is to know about a coach, including something vital like what his dream job is and how likely he would be to jump ship at a moment's notice to take that position.
Kiffin is an obnoxious, immature coach who shoots his mouth off and doesn't back it up on the field, yet continues to receive jobs he has not earned. He was the youngest head coach in modern NFL history at 31, had no success with the Raiders, then got a plum gig earning more than $2 million a year at one of the nation's marquee programs.
Now USC comes calling, and suddenly Kiffin - a former Trojan assistant - has arguably the best college job in the country.
How is this guy so lucky? Does he have embarrassing pictures of influential people or harbor national secrets?
Regardless of Kiffin's credentials, or lack thereof, he is not to blame here. Furious Tennessee fans who disagree are pointing the finger at the wrong person.
The most basic element is this: Kiffin took a better job for more money (reportedly close to double). Most adults have done that at some point in their lives, and there's nothing wrong with it.
The real issue here is that Tennessee's administrators blew it by not realizing Kiffin may leave so soon and not protecting the university from such a possibility.
The Vols could not have known a year ago that Pete Carroll would depart from USC so suddenly. But they should have pressed Kiffin during the hiring process and presented him with any number of scenarios to make sure he was committed to Tennessee and would not leave the program high and dry if another job became available.
The school could and probably should have included deterrent clauses in the contract. For instance, make it to where Kiffin would either owe the university a $3 million penalty or have to sit out a year of coaching if he abandoned ship after a brief period.
Penn State will be dealing with this issue soon enough.
When Joe Paterno retires, the school will face a monumentally difficult decision. It can either replace him with someone who has PSU ties or go find the hottest coaching commodity, someone who may have played and/or been an assistant at another powerhouse school.
As great of a program as Penn State is, it is not the best job in the country. If the Lions were to hire a coach with strong ties to Florida, Notre Dame, Texas or Oklahoma, it's conceivable that coach could pull a Kiffin under certain circumstances.
That doesn't necessarily mean PSU shouldn't go after such a coach if he's the best candidate. But it does mean the school must make sure its next hire will be committed for the long haul, not simply long enough to get a better offer.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and email@example.com.