I assumed Kiffin would be given another chance elsewhere, probably in college. On November 30, 2008, Lane signed a six-year deal with SEC's University of Tennessee. A big-time program. Millions of dollars. Not a bad life. However, in the short span of less than six months later, any UT fan without some doubts about the hire is either the more optimistic than Tony Robbins or in a coma.
I don't have a rooting interest either way (although I like to see teams that did well when I was growing up get back on the right track - One day, Nebraska!), but a small part of me wouldn't be surprised UT were to take a $7.5 million mulligan within the next couple of years. Let's look at his gaffes thus far:
1. On February 5, 2009, Kiffin accused Urban Meyer the head coach of the Florida Gators of violating NCAA recruiting rules at Tennessee Booster breakfast at the Knoxville Convention Center.
"I'm going to turn Florida in right here in front of you," Kiffin told the crowd. "As Nu'Keese was here on campus, his phone keeps ringing. And so one of our coaches is sitting in the meeting with him and says, 'Who is that?' And he looks at the phone and says, 'Urban Meyer.'
While Kiffin was accusing Meyer of violating NCAA rules, he was actually violating Southeastern Conference rules himself and his accusations of Meyer's conduct being against NCAA rules was incorrect. Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive issued a public reprimand to Kiffin over the comments. In addition to the public reprimand by Slive, Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley issued a statement demanding an public apology from Kiffin.Kiffin issued a public apology a day after the remarks. In a statement released by the University of Tennessee, Kiffin said, "In my enthusiasm for our recruiting class, I made some statements that were meant solely to excite those at the breakfast. If I offended anyone at the University of Florida, including Mr. Foley and Urban Meyer, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intention." - Wikipedia
So he called Meyer a cheater, and Meyer wasn't, and Kiffin made himself a cheater by saying Meyer was a cheater, and then says "IF I offended...Urban Meyer, I sincerely apologize." It's not like Kiffin said he didn't like the way Meyer combs his hair or dresses. He called him a cheater. No need to wonder if offense was taken.
2. He "intimated that Nu'Keese Richardson's high school in Pahokee, Fla., couldn't be trusted to fax the national letter of intent to Tennessee." - Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN
3. According to ESPN’s Chris Low, “Kiffin told Jeffrey that if he chose the Gamecocks, he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players from that state who had gone to South Carolina.” - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Comments like that ought to hurt his future recruiting efforts in Florida and Georgia. It's a good thing Florida and Georgia don't have a rich pool of high school football talent. Wait a minute...
4. Tennessee plans to self-report a secondary violation, the third one involving Kiffin in the last month, after he mentioned unsigned prospect Bryce Brown by name during a radio show in Knoxville on Friday morning.
NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting about unsigned prospects, specifically their ability. The other two secondary violations involving Kiffin had to do with simulating game-day experiences while prospects were on campus.- ESPN
5. Tennessee plans to self-report another NCAA secondary violation after a high school recruit was mentioned by name Tuesday on Lane Kiffin's Twitter page.
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said it wasn't actually Kiffin who penned the post in question but an employee in the football office who was updating Kiffin's Twitter page for him.
The post was up for about an hour during the afternoon before being removed by Tennessee officials. It read: "It's a beautiful day in Knoxville, Tennessee today. I was so exited to hear that J.C. Copeland committed to play for the Vols today!" - ESPN
Whether he or an employee posted it, they had already got in trouble once for mentioning a recruit by name. It just seems like if you are going to coach NCAA football, you really should be aware of what you can and can't do. It just makes career sense.
And several more things he's done:
- guaranteed a victory at Florida next season
- angered South Carolina's Steve Spurrier
- angered Alabama's Nick Saban
- threw out that maybe heralded recruit Marlon Brown was "a grandmama's boy"
Still, UT has gained a lot in the process: national attention for a "ghost" program and what "experts" deem to be a top-10 recruiting class (however, I am still waiting for all of Notre Dame's "#1 recruiting classes" to dominate).
The bottom line is winning. If he wins - which means compete for the SEC and National Championship soon - he will be loved and his style will be praised. If he doesn't, he and his style will wear out their welcome faster than Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels - and maybe Al Davis wasn't so far off on this one.