Thursday, February 5, 2009

Signing Day Smack Talk...You Go, Lane Kiffin

Don’t hate on Lane Kiffin for being who he is. The new brash, young head coach of the University of Tennessee football team has done a fine job ruffling a few feathers around the SEC since he was hired at the end of last season.

I was actually excited to see the Volunteers hire Kiffin, as I believe he will be a great fit for them despite whatever happened between him and Al Davis while he struggled coaching the Oakland Raiders. He’s a disciple and he knows how to get things going by invigorating the Volunteer nation. On the day he was introduced as the Vols head coach, Kiffin said he was most looking forward to “singing Rocky Top all night long” after beating Florida next season.

It was a typical statement to make at a football hiring press conference, but little did we know that Kiffin was just getting started. Kiffin, then attempted to lure Florida assistant coaches, Billy Gonzales to Tennessee while the Gators were preparing for the BCS National Championship game.

Kiffin bothered Alabama head coach, Nick Saban by hiring Lance Thompson from Saban’s staff two weeks before signing date. In retaliation, Saban ordered Alabama recruits not to take any visits to Tennessee.

Kiffin didn’t stop there. He got under the visor of Steve Spurrier when he hired Spurrier’s brother-in-law and battled him in the press with comments about recruiting. Speaking of recruiting, on signing day Kiffin lured two players, who were previously committed to Florida, to Tennessee, including wide receiver prospect, Nu’Keese Richardson. Today Kiffin claimed that Urban Meyer violated NCAA recruiting rules during the recruitment of Richardson. Kiffin had this to say at a recruiting banquet:

“I’m gonna turn Florida in right here in front of you. While Nu’Keese was on campus, his phone kept ringing. One of the caches says, ‘Who’s that?’ And he said, ‘Urban Meyer’. I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him.”
Someone should’ve told him that calling recruits while they’re on another campus is legal. But that’s okay. I applaud coach Kiffin for being so brash and bold. He has made a statement by coming out swinging, throwing hey-makers at the big dogs in the SEC. I’m not even sure if he knows what he’s getting himself into but I still like him for doing it.

Next season the Vols play, both Florida and Alabama away, while they’ll face South Carolina in Knoxville. I’m not sure what the season will hold for Kiffin and his Vols, as I’ll be busy with my own season, but we can rest assure that they won’t be short on confidence. Despite their 6-6 season – including losses to all three of Kiffin’s targets this offseason – having confidence is just the place to start a road to success. I’m looking forward to seeing how his team does. Who knows, maybe us Hoosiers will meet them in the Outback Bowl.

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