Something very Fishy about this lawsuit
A quarrel between coaches has escalated into a civil action. The Titans filed a lawsuit against USC and Lane Kiffin for maliciously luring a position coach to the land of sunshine and palm trees, and are asking to be compensated for damages incurred.
What we see on the surface is a “loose cannon”, formally named Lane Kiffin, making more headlines. But buried beneath it all, you’ll find a Trojan triangle, a 5-year wait, and an emphasis on disrespect.
As much as the story has blown into another rift between the University of Tennessee and Lane Kiffin, it is not. This isn’t about anyone on the Titans staff jumping at an opportunity to penalize the deserter of their beloved Alma Mater. It’s not about Bud Adams trying to win over the Volunteer state to increase season ticket sales. This is about Jeff Fisher, Jack Del Rio, and Lane Kiffin, along with the man they hired to coach their running backs, and the methods to obtain him.
Anyone sticking to their claim that Jeff Fisher would not do this to USC is delusional. This lawsuit was Fishy from the beginning, and will retain that odor as it runs its course. Fisher didn’t wake up one morning as the anti-Trojan. He wakes up every morning as a man demanding respect. And when the respect he gave to Jack Del Rio wasn’t returned to him by Lane Kiffin, we had the makings of a lawsuit.
- Kennedy Pola spent five years coaching running backs for the Jacksonville Jaguars. During that time, both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew earned spots on the Pro Bowl roster.
- Jeff Fisher, looking to hire a running backs coach, had his eye on Pola. Former Trojan and current Jaguars coach, Jack Del Rio, denied Fisher permission to talk to him. Fisher obliged, in a display of respect, choosing to wait patiently for his target’s contract to end.
- The Jaguars allowed Pola’s contract to near a point of expiration, essentially making him a free agent at the end of 2009. Earnest Byner was fired by the Titans, and Pola was hired to fill his spot in January of this year.
- Six months after his addition, and just one week before training camp, Pola leaves the Titans to accept a position at USC. Fisher claims Kiffin and USC made no request to speak to Pola, as he respectfully did years ago before being denied by the Jags, and as specifically stated in Pola’s contract.
When you put it all together, this is clearly not about college football or the University of Tennessee. Fisher obviously feels slighted, and rightfully so. Reaching for a remedy, he opens the door of the judicial system to deliver a petition that could be filed by many sports teams across America that suddenly find themselves victimized by body snatchers—USC included.
Will the Titans win this case? Against Pola, yes, as a breach did occur. But it’s doubtful they will get anything from Kiffin or USC, and the Titans can live with that. This is about principle, not money, so the Fisher man is just happy to drag two from their covering water and keep them on the hook. Reeling in that undersized catch won’t place a feast at your table, but throwing it back into the murky waters will make it more cautious of where it feeds.