Since he arrived at the University of Tennessee, Coach Lane Kiffin has been called brash, cocky, and arrogant. And this is from his supporters. He has flouted NCAA rules, earning "secondary violations" to help in recruiting. He frequently insults other SEC coaches.
He has been lauded in a rap song for "talking shit."
And these descriptions and actions have been cheered by the Vol nation because it helps recruiting, and recruiting is the name of the game. This calculated effort to put UT in the national spotlight has been successful. But there is a difference between being famous and being notorious.
It hasn't seemed to concern anyone that the commissioner of the SEC can't stand Kiffin. It hasn't seemed to concern anyone that other coaches in the SEC think Kiffin is a punk. Of more concern might be hundreds of thousands of fans of other SEC schools who have as their mission in life to scrutinize social media, message boards, and blogs looking for anything to hurt UT football.
The SEC and the NCAA may need to set up a special "Lane Kiffin Tips" hotline. There are currently two NCAA investigations into Vol recruiting. Does anyone think these will be the last? And does anyone think the SEC will be reluctant to nail Kiffin's hide to the wall? A News Sentinel poll has most fans voting that the NCAA is on a witch hunt. So? Will it make you feel better if UT is punished and you can cuss the NCAA? What will you do, vote them out of office? Maybe you can have a pity party with Alabama fans.
Kiffin takes his personal assistant, who is forbidden to do off-campus recruiting, on a recruiting trip to a Florida high school. The assistant graduated from the school. Does this sound smart?
Two very pretty young college girls drive 200 miles to attend a high school football game and cheer on two UT prospects. The fact that they are members of the Orange Pride, a university sponsored group, makes it a violation. Aside from pretty co-eds, the story is also all about social media. From what I can gather, Facebook, MySpace. and Twitter are now important elements in recruiting. It's possible for good-looking young co-eds to be in constant touch with recruits from all over the SEC, and it would seem to me to be a formidable recruiting tool for impressionable 18-year-old high school boys.
Given Kiffin's track record in recruiting, does anyone believe he isn't aware of this weapon at his disposal? Or believe that he wouldn't use it? Tip for UT fans: It isn't only Vol fans who read Facebook. It only takes one "friend" at another school to give the NCAA access to communications between co-eds and recruits.
It's unfortunate that these two young women now find themselves at the center of a scandal. The suggestions out there on the Internet, based on no evidence, are troubling. If anyone at UT had any role in putting these young women in this position, it is more egregious than recruiting violations.
These investigations cast a pall on UT and its athletic department. Is it a coincidence the investigations are occurring on the eve of the recruiting season? Does a top recruit sign with a school under pending NCAA sanctions? How will the Vol nation feel when there is a lot less recruiting needed in coming years—you don't need to recruit as much when the NCAA has taken away scholarships.
Athletic Director Mike Hamilton needs to get control of his football team. There needs to be some grown-up supervision of Coach Kiffin. This isn't the "outlaw" Oakland Raiders. It's the flagship university of the state of Tennessee.
The UT Trustees insist on keeping control of the football team at the system level. Are you proud to have discussions in the press about UT co-eds "brushing breasts" against recruits, or that the new catchphrase around the conference is that you can't spell "slut" without UT? Any of you have daughters at UT?
Time to earn your football tickets. You need to get your house in order, folks