Specifically, the topic question is: Lane Kiffin, Gene Chizik, or Dan Mullen ... which one will make the greatest immediate impact on the SEC?
Three of the five experts say Kiffin will have the most immediate impact, and a fourth says Kiffin will have the most long-term impact. Before Vol fans get too pumped, however, they should know that not all of Kiffin's impact is projected to be positive.
Regardless, here are some excerpts from each of the pigskin panelists:
CFN's Richard Cirminiello:
"Now, to be fair, I was not a fan of the Kiffin hiring and I'm still not sold that he's the long-term solution to break the relative malaise that marked the end of the Phil Fulmer era. Before jumping on that bandwagon, I need to see that he can be a big-time head coach, particularly in a league flush with elite coaches. However, I am intrigued by Kiffin. Like a modern-day Rick Neuheisel, he brings a youthful energy and an ability to attract talent, both on the field and on the sidelines. Plus, he's one of those guys that just sends off signals that he's going to do whatever it takes and put in all the hours necessary to get Tennessee back on top of the SEC. You have to like that. Yeah, he's stuck his foot in his mouth faster than a contortionist might, but with maturity and a little humility, he'll learn to bite his tongue more frequently in the future."
CFN's Matthew Zemek:
"From the skirmishes with Florida, to the presence of his dad as defensive coordinator, to the internal dramas in Knoxville, it seems pretty clear that the constant stream of publicity cranked out near the Tennessee River is either going to create a spectacularly revived Volunteer program, or a crash-and-burn catastrophe. It will be nearly impossible for Kiffin's tenure at UT to be viewed as a mild, modest, mellow, and middling period of time. The young lad is either going to soar or plummet--perhaps not fairly, but as the example of Jim Donnan proved at Georgia, coaches who run their mouths early in their tenure (or at least, before they've won big) must deliver on their talk in order to flourish. If they don't, they'll go down in flames. At Arizona or Virginia or Minnesota (just to give a few examples), Kiffin wouldn't have upped the ante all that much with his first few months of sound bite specials; at a brand-name SEC program, he's created a win-or-else dynamic that will define his stay at Tennessee."
Jon Miller, publisher of HawkeyeNation.com:
"Kiffin in a landslide, because he is already making an impact on the SEC, just not the kind of impact that Tennessee fans are going to be fond of in the long run. I have to hand it to him; Kiffin has me paying a lot of attention to the Vols in the offseason, something I don't usually make a habit of doing. I am borderline obsessed with either his blatant disregard for rule and order, or his amazing level of naïveté when it comes to rules and order."
CFN's Pete Fiutak pegs Mullen to have the greatest Year-1 impact but qualifies by noting:
"Now, if the question is who will make the biggest impact for down the road, it'll be Kiffin but not because he'll be a star. Assistant coach Ed Orgeron will recruit the heck out of the program and will bring in the talent to Tennessee. Kiffin will be the beneficiary. For now, the Tennessee offense will get the ball down the field more and it should show more pop, but the program, like Auburn's is retooling. Give each a year for everyone to figure out what they're doing."
Hunter Ansley, publisher of DraftZoo.com:
"Lane Kiffin has the early lead in this department, but I'm going with Chizik. Tennessee will always be Tennessee. They'll be a strong program that underachieves in spurts and surprises when no one's looking. They're a Capital One bowl team nearly every year no matter who's coaching. Mississippi State has been off and on for years, and while Mullen may turn them into a semi-consistent Independence Bowl team, that's not exactly a huge impact.
"But Auburn, a team that was basically in the SEC West discussion every year under Tommy Tuberville, will undergo a drastic change. I think the days of Auburn being a near lock for top 25 status are over. Is there really anyone out there that thinks Chizik's Auburn teams can compete with Nick Saban at Bama, the talent at LSU, the things Houston Nutt is doing at Ole Miss, or even the direction Bobby Petrino has Arkansas headed? That's the biggest impact I see here -- Auburn fading into obscurity."
For the complete story, go to collegefootballnews.com and click on the heading "Daily Roundtable – Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen?"