Tennessee’s Kiffin making noise with questionable tactics

By David Moorman  |   Wednesday, February 18, 2009  |  Comments( 1 )

Tennessee Volunteers
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After prolonged silence under former coach Phillip Fulmer, the once-proud Tennessee program is making noise again. So far, though, it’s mostly for the wrong reasons.

Lance Kiffin, who replaced Fulmer after his firing, has come across as a petulant, brash kid. Come to think of it, he is 33 years old and the youngest head coach in the Southeastern Conference. Sure, he has NFL experience as the former head coach of the Oakland Raiders. And his recruiting coordinator and father is the venerable Monte Kiffin.

But where does Lane Kiffin get off falsely accusing Urban Meyer, Florida's national championship-winning coach, of a recruiting violation? If anyone is guilty it's Kiffin, who received a slap on the wrist from SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

In the last month, Kiffin has committed no fewer than three recruiting gaffes with Tennessee self-reporting them to the NCAA. Nothing is likely to come of it, because the errors were mostly cosmetic in nature.

If anything, the Meyer incident and the mention of a potential recruit during a radio interview indicate poor judgment. Or do they? Are Kiffin’s p.r. skills that deficient, or is he just trying to draw attention to himself and his team?

The latter seems most likely. Being brash is one thing. Knowing how to do it is another. Alabama coach Nick Saban is the master at cutting comments and snide remarks delivered with cold-hearted efficiency. Of course, Saban is 57 and has learned how to craft his words and to comport himself. Kiffin has a long way to go before reaching that level. Moreover, Saban won a national championship at LSU and had Alabama on the brink of one this past season.

Saban revived two programs by changing the culture of thinking rather than by taking potshots aimed at creating a stir. If Kiffin is a Saban wannabe, it doesn’t show. Saban cut his teeth in the NFL with Bill Belichick and has the steely glare and cunning coaching skills to show for it.

Kiffin cut his with maverick Oakland owner Al Davis and has the tired showmanship that comes with working for someone who has become a parody of his former self.

Kiffin used a Sports Illustrated article to boast that he had someone fired because Kiffin was 25 minutes late in being picked up at the airport. Kiffin claimed that the lost time would give coaches like Saban and Meyer a competitive edge.

What’s wrong with Kiffin? He couldn’t have taken that idle time to think creatively in trying to bolster the Volunteers through actions rather than words?

As it turned out, Tennessee officials said no one was fired and Kiffin's words were spoken in the heat of the moment.

Stay tuned for more. We haven’t heard the last from Lane Kiffin.
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About David Moorman

Dave Moormann is an award-winning journalist, who has covered LSU athletics since 1980. He began his coverage with the Baton Rouge Advocate, where he was a writer and editor from 1980-98. In 1996, he authored a book on the history of LSU football entitled, "Fighting Tigers Handbook: Stories, Stats...
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