Dec. 5, 2009
Tennessee wrapped up a two-day practice stint Saturday with a workout inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. Head coach Lane Kiffin spoke after the session about the effect of losing assistant coach Frank Wilson, who is joining the staff at LSU.
"We're glad for Frank from the standpoint that he does get to go home," Kiffin said. "It's a big deal to him, and his wife and family have so many people there in Louisiana.
"That was a big reason because he's knows the direction of our program, where we're going and what our offense did this year. There were a lot of reasons for him to stay, but in the end, there were so many people close to him (that wanted the move). He grew up an LSU fan, and they offered him something we couldn't as far as being the recruiting coordinator.
Kiffin said the decision for Wilson, who coached Tennessee's wide receivers, did not appear to be an easy one.
"He was very torn. He went back and forth a number of times. I don't think he fully knew what he was doing 100 percent until this morning."
A former wide receivers coach at Southern California, Kiffin said he and others will take over those position coaching responsibilities during bowl preparations.
"We lose a lot in Frank; he's a great coach and a great recruiter with a lot of ties," Kiffin said. "But if there is a position we could handle losing from the schematical standpoint, that would be it because it's what I've done before. That does make it a little bit easier, and we have people here who will help out."
Kiffin said the timeline for naming a replacement has not been set, but he doesn't expect it to be a quick hire.
"We take a long time in this process and are very thorough. We've got to make sure we do it right. The last thing you want to do is hire the wrong people and then have to make changes.
Earlier Saturday, Kiffin was a guest analyst on ESPN's College Gameday set in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. He said he accepted the invitation becuse that's the goal for his Tennessee program, to get the Vols back to playing for a conference title.
"It was good to be down there," Kiffin said. "Obviously, it's a great atmosphere and somewhere we want to be. I didn't stay very long, but it's an exciting place with a lot of energy around the game. We were booed a lot, but we went into both of those places this year -- Alabama and Florida -- so it was nothing new for us.
Upon his return, the Vols practiced for just more than an hour. Tennessee expects to find out its bowl destination Sunday, but Kiffin said these first two workouts have been all about making his team better.
"We went through everything and guys had great energy out here. We continue to develop younger guys and it's giving us a chance to look at the film and experiment with some other things."
The Vols are taking this week off for final exams and return to practice Friday afternoon.