The Tennessee Titans have sued Southern California and its new coach Lane Kiffin after the school hired away Kennedy Pola a week before training camp opens.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Davidson County Chancery Court, claims that Kiffin “maliciously” interfered with Pola’s contract with the NFL team in inducing him to leave.
Pola was hired as running backs coach of the Titans in January but left to become the Trojans offensive coordinator and running backs coach over the weekend.
The Tennessean reported that the lawsuit claims: “as a result of USC and Kiffin’s tortuous conduct, Tennessee [Titans] football has been damaged in an amount proven at trial.”
The lawsuit also accuses USC and Kiffin of violating Pola’s contract that required him to have written permission to discuss a job with anyone other than the Titans.
The Tennessean first reported the lawsuit on its website.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher was not happy with Kiffin’s role in Pola’s departure.
“I am very disappointed in Lane Kiffin’s approach to this,” Fisher said on Saturday, according to the Tennessean. “Typically speaking when coaches are interested in hiring or discussing potential employment from coaches on respective staffs there is a courtesy call made from the head coach or athletic director indicating there is an interest in talking to the assistant.
“So I am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism on behalf of Lane, to call me and leave me a voice mail after Kennedy had informed me he had taken the job. It is just a lack of professionalism.”
Kiffin has not been popular in the state of Tennessee since leaving the state university after only one year to coach USC.
Kiffin disputed that he stole away Pola, who coached running backs and special teams at USC from 2000-03.
“We reached out to Kennedy Pola [Friday] to gauge whether he had any possible interest in returning to USC before we moved forward with the process,” Kiffin said in a statement released by USC.
“Kennedy said he would think about it and get back to us [Saturday]. Once Kennedy did call back earlier [Saturday], out of my great respect for Coach Fisher I immediately reached out to Coach to make him aware of the situation. I have spoken with Coach Fisher and he now has an accurate understanding of the timeline of events.
“We realize the timing of this isn’t perfect for all parties, but this is a great opportunity and promotion for Kennedy.”