Kiffin takes page from Spurrier’s playbook

 

I don’t know if Lane Kiffin can coach a lick. We’ll find that out in September.

But to tell you the truth, right now it doesn’t matter if Kiffin can coach or not. For the new head coach at Tennessee, all that matters today, March 25,  is that people are talking about Volunteer football. It can be good or bad. Again, it doesn’t matter. In that respect, you have to give the 33-year-old Kiffin his due. Every media talking head in the country has weighed in on this guy. A bunch of them have ripped him. Again, it doesn’t matter.

We won’t go over the list of verbal “transgressions” by Kiffin since he took over as UT’s head coach. You know them by heart. That, in and of itself, is instructive.

We learned yesterday that Florida’s players are so incensed at Kiffin, who accused coach Urban Meyer of “cheating” during a speech to a Tennessee booster club, that they have posted his picture in their lockers. Michael Carvell did a great job of getting Kiffin on the phone and asking him about this.

Another coach would have hemmed and hawed and harrumphed and given some generic answer with absolutely no substance and certainly no sense of humor. Kiffin told Carvell that he saw it as “free advertising” for Tennessee. It was funny.

Don’t you see what’s going on here? Don’t the Florida players see what’s going on here?

Kiffin is taking a page right out of Steve Spurrier’s playbook.

People forget how Spurrier was universally hated after he got to Florida in 1990. People hated him mostly because he won 122 games and six SEC titles in 12 seasons as the head Gator. But they also hated him because he was not afraid to stick in the needle into Phillip Fulmer, Ray Goff, Bobby Bowden or any other coach or program that crossed the path of his mighty Gators. He did it because it was fun and because, in a way, it actually loosened up his players.

I can’t tell you how many Florida players told me over the years that they were more confident in games because Spurrier had found a way to deflect the attention away from them and put it on himself.

Perfect example: Florida ended the 1996 regular season with a 24-21 loss at Florida State. As fate would have it, the No 3 Gators got a rematch with No. 1 Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.  In the weeks leading up to that game, Spurrier accused Florida State defensive coaches of late hits on QB Danny Wuerffel when they previously met in Tallahassee. He put together a highlight film to make his point and made sure a number of us “media boys” saw it. That story dominated the run-up to the game and Florida players told me later that it took the pressure off them. Florida won 52-20 and captured the national championship.

The point is that the world has changed. Recruits, like the rest of us, are living in information overload. If you’re going to get noticed, you have to find a way to break through the clutter. Spurrier did it his way in the 90s. Kiffin has found a way to do it in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Now, having said all that,  is Florida going to kick Tennessee good pretty when they meet in Gainesville on Sept. 19? Probably. But you know what? Florida will be preseason No. 1 and was going to beat Tennessee anyway. So what if they tack on another touchdown or two out of anger? If you’re Tennessee, it really doesn’t matter. Yeah, it will hurt for a little while but the next week the Vols will play Ohio U.

What matters is an interesting little nugget in one of Carvell’s stories. He called a big time recruit who didn’t know the name of the head coach at Clemson and only knew the last name of the new at head at Auburn. But, by golly, he knew the head coach at Tennessee.

If you’re a Tennessee fan all that really matters is whether or not Kiffin and his staff can eventually bring enough good players to Knoxville and coach them up well enough to win an SEC title. It will be at least two years, probably three, before we know that if that has a chance of happening. The early returns look promising. Tennessee has surrounded Kiffin with the highest paid group of assistant coaches in the country. It could work or this whole thing could blow up in Tennessee’s face.

Until then, expect Kiffin to keep stirring the pot. Every time he is on YouTube or Pardon the Interruption the Tennessee brand is exposed to potential recruits. And the media, God bless them, will keep writing and talking about it. And you, dear friends, will keep reading and watching. You can’t help it.

 

 

 

 

137 comments Add your comment

GeoffDawg

March 25th, 2009
8:45 am

Refresh my memory – was Spurrier that obnoxious when he was at Duke and when he first started at Florida? Or did he prove it on the field first before becoming the dreaded “Darth Visor”?

rok dawg

March 25th, 2009
8:50 am

Tony:

Just promise me one thing – when Florida beats Tenneesee 51 – 10 this fall, you want write an article complaining that Meyer “ran up the score”.

He is going to run up the score … take it to the bank. And with about 30 seconds left in the game, Meyer is going to call time out so Kiffen can hear the Florida band play their version of Rocky Top.

Good lord man, just becasue everyboby knows your name doesn’t make you a genius; it makes you a tarket, and then it makes you a joke!

Bull Gator

March 25th, 2009
8:56 am

To compare Lane, 5-15, Kiffin to Steve Spurrier, who won an ACC Championship at Duke (DUKE!!!) before taking the job at UF is laughable. Spurrier talked because he knew he could back it up. Kiffin’s talking because he’s hoping it’ll get his face in the media. What’s he going to be telling recruits next year when they find out he lied to this year’s recruits about Jonathan Crompton actually being a really strong QB? After UF and AL destroy UT this year, Urban and Saban will see to it that they raid whatever recruits he’s lying to at that point.

Also, no one talks about the fact that, while everyone praises Meyer and Saban for their coaching prowess, all anyone has been talking about in terms of coaching ability is Kiffin’s 90-year-old dad. And Ed Orgeron may be able to recruit, but look at his pathetic record at Ole Miss. Lane Kiffin is firing up the UT crowd now, but my prediction is this whole thing blows up in their face. Can’t wait for the day when the UT faithful are longing for the days of Fat Phil.

Go Gators!

Bill

March 25th, 2009
9:01 am

The guy is immature and acts like the new kid in class that everyone beats up because he runs his mouth. His opening of his mouth about recruits that haven’t signed, firing employees and the whole Raiders deal are examples of that. The notion that this was a grand plan in the beginning is a crock and was spun up because UT looks so stupid hiring him. Don’t get me wrong the UT admin and fans have nothing else to grab on to except this was the plan at the start. I’m suprised that you are Tony.

rocksteadyfreddie

March 25th, 2009
9:12 am

Kiffin can yap all he wants, but it will be 3 years before he can think about being on the same field as Florida.

Supes

March 25th, 2009
9:13 am

Yes, attention is nice but at the end of the day, what’s going to be the bottom line? Wins and Loses, that’s what. So if LK goes 6-6, or 7-5…how long before the fans at UT scream for his head too?

UT doesn’t have a legit number 1 QB, that’s where it all starts.

John

March 25th, 2009
9:13 am

There is no easier argument to make than a negative argument. It doesn’t take research. Doesn’t take very much skill. How can somebody write an article that tries to sway an opinion? That would take alot of facts and research and a little prognostication. What does it take to say someone will fail? No research, no skill. Heck any 12 year old can write a negative article or response. You suck, he sucks, the article sucks, blah blah blah. See how easy it is?

Forrest Gump

March 25th, 2009
9:17 am

When college coaches act like WWF thugs, players usually follow the example. Richt sends his team to dance in the end zone and becomes the poster child for bad sportsmanship. The next season, his team marches steadily from #1 to about #20 and leads the world in player arrests and penalties and receives butt whippings of Biblical proportions from AL and UF and gives up 45 points to Tech. Kiffin is attracting players in his own moronic image, and he will pay for it. Great coaches do not require gimmicks to win football games.

Gen Neyland

March 25th, 2009
9:19 am

I’d like to know how many of the anti-CLK’ers have his quotes posted on their Frigidares at home, ala the UF lockeroom…What a hoot. And Tony is right, UF is gonna beat alot of us this year. Maybe all of us. Funny part is the UGA fanbase that feels The Urban Cowboy got his pound of flesh against the Dawgs last year and will play them with a touch of sympathy is loony tunes. He’d much rather stick a fork in UGA by half time than to beat UT by 60…

Saint Nick

March 25th, 2009
9:30 am

Just imagine what this idiot would be like if Monte didn’t have this clown on a leash!!!!!!!

Miles

March 25th, 2009
9:35 am

It’s fair to compare Kiffin to Spurrier relative to the amount of attention his mouth draws from the media. However, Kiffin lacks Spurrier’s polished silver spear-like tongue. Kiffin’s lack of command of the English language would be better compared to a fugurative headbutt. Yet, as you’ve indicated Mr. Barnhart, Kiffin will continue to say these things because the fans “will keep reading and watching.” This topic is certainly more fun than contemplating what we know or don’t know about the ACC!

UGA'er

March 25th, 2009
9:37 am

I agree, and I’ll hang up and listen.

LSWho?

March 25th, 2009
9:37 am

Sorry Tony but the comparison is off base. Kiffin was way over the line by calling Meyer a cheater. If Tennessee does not have anyone step up at QB, Sept 19 will be a major beat down.

La Jolla Dawg

March 25th, 2009
9:47 am

How about the AJC reporters/columnists not reporting on him–at least not on a daily basis. It is getting really old. I would think that there are other college football related topics that could fill the space.

m

March 25th, 2009
9:56 am

Kiffen is not obnoxious. He is just a loudmouth that believes in himself and his team. What is truly obnoxious is watching Chan Gailey literally destroy Tech’s program for 6 long years, while many Tech fans sat around with both thumbs up their arses and not speaking up against what Chan was doing to our beloved program. Thank God and Greyhound that the most obnoxious coach in Tech history is gone forever.

chicagodawg

March 25th, 2009
9:58 am

I actually think Kiffin is going to get Tennessee back ahead of Georgia in the SEC if we don’t watch out (Florida’s always been ahead even when we managed to win 2 SEC titles). The only reason we moved ahead of them (or at least pulled even) the last 7-8 years is because they lost their “swagger” from the 1990’s. They used to do to us just what Florida still does, to act like a bunch of thugs’ when they made a play (reference how Spikes handled Moreno this year early in the game; we were acted like cowards that whole game after that and it got in our heads).

They (UT) still have better looking players on the field (especially defensive backs and offensive line) than we do, anyone who has eyes can see it. The only thing they’ve lacked is desire and they still have played us pretty even this decade. I keep hoping we’ll learn how to recruit a defense but it never happens so we’ll never be a consistent top 10 team until we do.

Anyway what we need to do is worry about our own problems and get some “swagger” on our side of the ball, instead of worrying about another coach. We’re playing right into his hands just like we have with Meyer now and Spurrier before him.

Huh?

March 25th, 2009
10:08 am

Kiffin doesn’t seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation in which he finds himself. He does not respect SEC football or his SEC counterparts. Heck, I don’t even think he respects the game of football that much. “Free advertising?” If he thinks that’s going to help him win football games in the fall he’s an even bigger fraud than I previously thought. Sure Tony, this guy is getting a little mileage out of his circus routine because its March and there isn’t anything else to talk about, but when the games start and the lights are on none of this will mean a damn thing. Tennessee sucked last year because they couldn’t block and tackle, not because they weren’t getting enough advertising. I’d like to know what big mouth is doing about the blocking and tackling part. I predict Kiffin will be an embarassing failure. You can see this coming from a mile away.

Gator Mike

March 25th, 2009
10:10 am

The pucker factor should be high at the next SEC Football Coaches meeting. I wonder which coaches will sit at the same table with kiffin at the meeting’s luncheon. They will probably have to serve Rolaids for dessert to relieve the indigestion from the participants at that table.
Go Gators!

Mac

March 25th, 2009
10:11 am

But Spurrier had bona fides. Heisman winner and winner of the ACC at DUKE for chrissakes! Big differences.

Huh?

March 25th, 2009
10:12 am

“I keep hoping we’ll learn how to recruit a defense but it never happens so we’ll never be a consistent top 10 team until we do.”

That’s funny because we’ve been a consistent top 10 team for several years now, including last year. What cave have you been living in?

DirtyDawg

March 25th, 2009
10:14 am

Hey chicagodawg, let’s see how the season turns out before you make these ‘we’re playing into their hands’ statements. CMR has handled the Kiffin brashness with just the right attitude…what would you have him do, engage in the same kind of buffoonery? Georgia’s doing what Georgia needs to do, recruit top talent, coach-’em-up and send ‘em out to represent us. We’ll win games and we’ll win championships, and we won’t have to worry about coaches that like to shoot their mouths off before they ever do anything of note – other than conning a pretty girl into marrying him…go figure that one.

SlimG

March 25th, 2009
10:14 am

Who would want this type of free advertising? Not any school with class. So you are left with Florida, Alabama, and UT. Wait, I forgot Arkansas.

Big difference

March 25th, 2009
10:21 am

“..he won 122 games and six SEC titles in 12 seasons as the head Gator.”

That is how Spurrier differs from Kiffin. People hated SOS, but he had their respect and not just their attention. And Spurrier’s jokes were actually pretty funny. Kiffin has won nothing as a head man and has lost more respect than he has gained so far.

There are some big differences in these two coaches.

chicagodawg

March 25th, 2009
10:26 am

Huh? Do you really think we,ve played like a top 10 team in the last 3-4 years (since West Virginia embarassed us we’ve not been the same, you know it!)? Do you really? If you do then you’ve been in a cave.

Beating a down Tennesse team an average of every other year, struggling against lowly South Carolina (how?) every single season, beating Florida about 20% of the time, and ever losing even 1 game to Georgia Tech, not to mention choking 3-4 times on national TV in big games (getting blown out in most of them), does not spell a true top 10 team year in and year out. I love the Dawgs more than anyone and will pull for us forever but I know football and what we’ve done is good, but not great. Tennessee and Florida are still equal or better programs and we don’t seem to do anything about it.

TonyBFan

March 25th, 2009
10:27 am

Tony, you’re point on this my man. He hasn’t proved he can coach, yet. Maybe he can’t. But he CAN recruit. Players and coaches. You have to get those before you win. On the money Tony.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 25th, 2009
10:28 am

Kiffin’s apology to Florida went something like this “I apologize to all the women I have loved before… and uh FLorida.”

General, I don’t recall Georgia accusing anybody of cheating so Meyer’s response will be done on the field as it is in heaven.

Tony, TO and paris hilton looks for the free advertising. Next thing you know the papparazzi will be filming Kiffin doing topless sit ups in his driveway. Don’t you see where this is leading.

BILLY JACK

March 25th, 2009
10:28 am

Huge gap between Spurrier and Kiffin least of all Spurrier won a conf title at Duke for heavens sake-turned the Gators into a national power just out of Charlie Pell era.The Gators were average or below before he got there.Those 2 are a million miles apart.Those are the facts, I dont like either one.Spurrier has at least earned it.Kiffin is the only coach in the country that makes Al Davis lokk like a good guy.

Howard

March 25th, 2009
10:28 am

Okay I am a Gator and a Spurrier fan so maybe my comments are not objective. First, Spurrier’s comments were never falsely calling someone a cheater. Kiffin tried to rile up the UT alumni with his comments. You should have compared that to when Spurrier said that FSU stood for “free shoes university”. Both were done for the same purpose. However, the nature of Spurrier’s comment was that it was a teasing for the trouble some FSU football players got into.Which is an appropriate way to rile up the alumni. Kiffin’s was an accusation and the context was not meant as a teasing but as a way of bragging and a lie. . Second, forget all the stuff Kiffin said about Florida or any other college. His biggest mistake is what he said about the high school. I can’t imagine that the football coach at that HS has anything nice to say to his players about Kiffin. Finally, Spurrier was always criticized as being self righteous, thus the label “Steve Superior”. Probably some of that is earned. But, he is one of the few coaches that I have repeatedly heard say after a game in which they lost that they got outplayed AND out coached. As good a coach and as successful as Myer is, he never says that even though it is probably true, e.g., Miss State last year.

azcat225

March 25th, 2009
10:31 am

Until mid-December, this is all just a tempest in a T-pot. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

gdawginkalamazoo

March 25th, 2009
10:39 am

Howard, good post and to the point.

Dean

March 25th, 2009
10:40 am

The only hard truth to all this is that none of it matters. UGA, UF and UT need to worry about making their teams stronger. What Kiffin says or does has no relevance. I’m sure he’s not the first coach to do these things. Just becuase every comment is sent around the world at the touch of a button is the only reason we read about this stuff. If we stop caring and reading what he does then the reporters won’t write aobut it. Just ignore it and focus on your repsective teams. My team is UGA. Any new reports about how the 5th day of spring practice went?

hsf

March 25th, 2009
10:41 am

At Tennessee, the cupboard is not bare. It is convemiently forgotten that the Volunteers are barely a year removed form the SEC East championship and a serious beatdown of Georgia. The Kiffen hiring has proven to be a masterstroke in recruiting and energizing of the Tennessee fan base. Tennessee has the nation’s best stadium, the distinct color of orange, the checkerboard, Smokey, Rocky Top, and SEC and national championships second only to Alabama. FEAR THE ORANGE.

GeoffDawg

March 25th, 2009
10:47 am

Lol – that nation’s best stadium? Don’t confuse quantity with quality. Just because you squeeze about 10,000 more into that giant erector set than Sanford doesn’t make it a top stadium.

Tony Barnhart

March 25th, 2009
10:47 am

All very good comments. Understand what I’m saying and what I’m NOT saying. When comes to coaching, you can’t even put Spurrier and Kiffin in the same sentence. Spurrier had won an ACC championship at Duke before he got to Florida. He was one of the most dominating coaching figures the SEC has ever seen.

This has nothing to do with coaching, as I said early in the blog.

This has everything to do with a persona and the ability to draw attention to your football program–good or bad. Spurrier did that well. This guy does it well.

Spurrier backed up his talk with a lot of wins. It remains to be seen if Kiffin will.

GATORZONE

March 25th, 2009
10:53 am

m, get a new line. Thank God and Greyhound is as dated as the busline itself.

Shane

March 25th, 2009
10:56 am

I dont buy the whole sly like a fox argument. This west coast guy is about to get a lesson in southern football the hard way.

John

March 25th, 2009
10:57 am

As a UT fan, Kiffin was overline saying Meyer was was a cheater. The intent to fire up the crowd was good, he just went about it wrong. That being said, when is the media going to let it go? He’s apologized more than once.

Dean

March 25th, 2009
10:58 am

The best way to get recruits is to start winning. I just don’t know that firing up every team to play you is the smart way to go about it. Florida had the talent to back up Spurriers big mouth. Notice he doesn’t talk nearly as much now. Florida will probably smoke them, Alabama I’m sure will play them very strong, then you have South Carolina fired up and a talented Georgia team on the schedule. And they can’t look past their in state rival Vandy anymore. The cupboard is not bare at UT but he’s setting up a team that struggled last year to face alot of angry, big time foes this fall. Can’t see it as being a smart move.

The Alpha Male

March 25th, 2009
10:59 am

Geez, Tony…. you’re quickly heading down the Bisher road to journalistic incoherence.

I couldn’t care less about Tennessee or Florida….. I hate them both equally. But the fact of the matter is that Tennessee hired a buffoon. In any other league, he could survive…. he won’t the SEC.

Forget the arrogant blather and boisterous bravado (by the way, the shirtless thing….. hardly original…. Orgeron did it at Ole Miss including the “Wild Boys” crap…. how’d that work out?).

The simple truth of the matter is that in the SEC, being a loudmouth only works if you can coach…… Kiffin shows so little grasp of leadership and organization that he and his staff have committed multiple NCAA recruiting violations before GAME ONE….. including one within minutes of being hired!

Yeah, Tony….. Kiffin is dumb like a fox…… riiiiiiight. The guy is poison.

In two years, UT will be back on the coaching search trail and they can only hope that this idiot doesn’t have them on NCAA probation by then…. but at least you’ll have something to write about.

GeoffDawg

March 25th, 2009
11:05 am

John – you have to admit that it was a half-hearted apology. “If” I offended? That’s apologies 101 for anybody trying to avoid accountability. Also, not that I care about Urban Meyer too much, but he singled him out for criticism but then didn’t have the courtesy or the cajones to apologize to him personally. That just smacks of immaturity and when you suspect someone is immature, then it makes more sense that these attention grabbing tactics are not part of some grand scheme aimed at out-maneuvering his competition.

Dean

March 25th, 2009
11:05 am

Honestly, I don’t think him calling Meyer a cheater was a big deal, nor was the comment about Marlon Brown’s grandmother influencing him a big deal. Coaches and recruiters talk trash. He just needs to learn to stop saying it in front of microphones.
Vince Dooley used to pooh pooh his team and talk up every single opponent, even if it was William and Mary. That’s the smart way to keep your team from overlooking someone and not giving motivational material to your opposition.

bowman

March 25th, 2009
11:07 am

Ed Orgeron also made bombastic claims when he first became head coach at Ole Miss. After three years of over-the-top boasting but little progress on the field, Orgeron was fired. Yes, Kiffin can divert attention to himself by making wild claims, but in the end it’s either winning results (as Spurrier did at Florida) or it’s the highway. Ironically, Orgeron is now a key member of Kiffin’s staff. Do we see a trend?

[...] you want.”UT:  Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Kiffin is taking a page from Steve Spurrier’s playbook… and so far it’s working.UT:  According to this practice notes column, quarterback Nick [...]

But...

March 25th, 2009
11:14 am

When Ed Orgeron made those bombastic claims, no one could understand him. Kiffen should try some “incoherent” speak as well. Couldn’t serve him any worse.

[...] from Day One, getting skewered by rival fanbases and backed by Vols along the way. Now, the AJC’s Tony Barnhart is agreeing, saying Kiffin is taking a page from Steve Spurrier’s “playbook” with [...]

Hmmm

March 25th, 2009
11:27 am

**CHICAGODAWG** you smell like a jacket buzzing around. Hmmm, let’s see ‘NOT TOP TEN’, I guess six of the last seven years is not top ten. ‘WE HAVEN’T PLAYED WELL SINCE WVU,’ I guess 2007 was a fluke. ‘BEATING A DOWN TN TEAM EVERY OTHER YEAR,’ I don’t believe 6-3 is average and as a GT guy, I thought you could do math.

Go find your school’s blog because IF you are a dawg fan, you aren’t much of one but don’t let FACTS get in your way.

Ryan

March 25th, 2009
11:29 am

Spurrior – 5 SEC titles, 1 National Title
Kiffin – Yet to coach any team to a winning record – EVER!!

Leland

March 25th, 2009
11:31 am

What yawl need to do is change the oil in the mower and clean the oil filter. Sharpen the blade.

[...] the AJ-C last year, but he’s playing straight out of the paper’s online playbook with today’s post.  It’s not the subject matter, which is little more than the “Junior – Crazy Like A [...]

Hmmm

March 25th, 2009
11:38 am

Tony, isn’t Lane still the same guy that tried a 76 YARD FIELD GOAL to which the other team returned it like a punt? Was this part of his ‘master’ plan?