No penny pinching

Sometimes it's best to wait until the dust settles a bit before drawing conclusions. Take Tennessee's hiring of head football coach Lane Kiffin, for instance.

Following the forced resignation of Phillip Fulmer, many observers figured UT would break the bank in its search for a big-name successor. They assumed the school would shell out $4 million for North Carolina's Butch Davis or $3-plus million for Texas Tech's Mike Leach.

When Tennessee instead announced the hiring of Kiffin at $2 million for 2009 – half the annual salary Alabama is paying Nick Saban – some Vol fans grumbled that the administration was more interested in pinching pennies than hiring a quality coach.

One month later it is obvious that saving money wasn't a major consideration in UT's decision. By the time all nine Big Orange assistants are in place it appears the Kiffin staff will be compensated in the same ballpark with the Saban staff.

According to published reports, the Vols will pay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin a salary in excess of $1 million for 2009. Assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator/defensive line coach Ed Orgeron will pull down a reported $500,000. And the Vols reportedly have offered Georgia aide Rodney Garner $400,000 to change sides.

For those keeping score at home, the projected salaries of Monte Kiffin, Orgeron and Garner (if hired) would come to a shade under $2 million. Assuming the other six assistants aren't planning to work for free, Tennessee likely will be paying $5 to $6 million for its 10-man football coaching staff in 2009.

That doesn't sound like penny pinching to me.

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