The lessons to be learned from Pahokee-Gate

 

Apparently things have finally been patched up between the Tennessee football program and Pahokee High School in South Florida. Due to a series of circumstances that can only be described as juvenile, for a while Tennessee assistant coach Eddie Gran was banned from coming back onto the campus to recruit in May.

The issue was Tennessee’s signing of Pahokee wide receiver Nu’Keese Richardson, who had previously given a verbal commitment to Florida. In a fan function on Feb. 4, Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin first got in a dig at Florida coach Urban Meyer, suggesting that Meyer violated NCAA rules in the recruiting of Richardson. That turned out not to be the case and Kiffin had to apologize. He was reprimanded by the SEC.

Later Kiffin was quoted in media reports as saying this to that same group of fans: “For those who haven’t been to Pahokee, there ain’t much going on. You take that hour drive up from South Florida, there ain’t a gas station that works. Nobody’s got enough money to even have shoes or a shirt on.”

Kiffin obviously didn’t know there was a reporter in the room. That was the first mistake. But then the principal of Pahokee High School, Ariel Alejo, compounded the problem when he got mad and banned Tennessee coaches from his campus until he got a public apology. That apology was delivered by phone on Tuesday.

Here’s how to solve this problem and to keep it from happening again: Everybody involved has to act like adults.

Yes, Kiffin made the first mistake. He has to know that in an age where cell phones are also recording devices, everything ends up on the internet sooner or later. Now yesterday I said that what is said by coaches in booster gatherings should be taken with a grain of salt. But I think we’ll agree—and I think Kiffin would agree—that a line was crossed with these comments.

If you are the head coach at an SEC institution as a rule you should not make disparaging remarks about any school or community. Just don’t do it. Not even in a booster gathering. You’ll have to make fewer apologies that way.

But to me, not enough is being made about Mr. Alejo’s response to all this. Mr. Alejo, you are a school administrator in charge of a diverse student body. Act like it. You don’t have a Florida Gator logo (or any logo that is not your high school) underneath your bio on the school’s Web page (which has since been removed). You are not a fan.  And if you have a problem with a college and its recruiters coming to your campus, you don’t turn it into a public snit. If you can’t handle it, call your superintendent. There are ways that professionals handle problems and this was not handled professionally until others–including the mayor and vice-mayor–stepped in.

I love college football as much as anybody. I’ve devoted my professional life to it. But it drives me crazy when the game makes normally sane people lose their minds. The kids are watching the adults and looking for guidance and leadership. Too many times we let them down.

 

 

97 comments Add your comment

mightyKC

May 21st, 2009
8:31 am

Tony
I hear so many Vol fans say that secondary violations are common place, EVERYONE does them, and if you ain’t cheatin you ain’t tryin.

So can schools just rack up hundreds of secondary violations w/ no repercussions?

Also, I do realize that mistakes are made, and I do agree that all schools get them here and there, but can you or any other folks that devote your life/job to following college football dig up any statistics over the last 10 yrs or so on how many each school have gotten?

Or specifically confirm/deny that no coach/school has ever had so many before he’s even coached a game?

It’s one thing for a school to have a mistake, another for a school to knowingly walk on the fine line because they can, and because there are apparently no repercussions. It’s just a matter of time before the Vols and Wonder Boy screw up big.

Roy Kramer

May 21st, 2009
8:33 am

Vols sign Michael Vick! Hamilton replaces Smokey with Ma & Pa Kettle.

Max Sizemore

May 21st, 2009
8:36 am

Tony, I support the principal and I would have done the same thing. Kiffin disparaged the community, and no recruiter has the “right” to go anywhere he pleases. Actions have consequences.

Saint Nick

May 21st, 2009
8:38 am

LANE KIFFIN IS AN IDIOT!!!!!! You cannot just keep p*ssing people off then apologizing. Sooner or later people get tired of hearing I’m sorry!!!! To tell you the truth, I’m tired of hearing that this MORON has screwed up, which has become a daily occurance. I GUARANTEE THAT THE UT BOOSTERS AND ADMINISTRATION ARE SORRY THEY EVER HIRED THIS MORON!!!! And they will feel worse after about 4+ 40 point beatdowns that UT will receive come this fall!!!! ROLLS TIDES!!!

[...] “But to me, not enough is being made about Mr. Alejo’s response to all this. Mr. Alejo, you are a school administrator in charge of a diverse student body. Act like it. You don’t have a Florida Gator logo (or any logo that is not your high school) underneath your bio on the school’s Web page (which has since been removed). You are not a fan. And if you have a problem with a college and its recruiters coming to your campus, you don’t turn it into a public snit. If you can’t handle it, call your superintendent. There are ways that professionals handle problems and this was not handled professionally until others–including the mayor and vice-mayor–stepped in. I love college football as much as anybody. I’ve devoted my professional life to it. But it drives me crazy when the game makes normally sane people lose their minds. The kids are watching the adults and looking for guidance and leadership. Too many times we let them down.” The lessons to be learned from Pahokee-Gate | Mr. College Football [...]

Gatorz5

May 21st, 2009
8:52 am

The principal was simply doing the right thing for his student athletes. Why would he want his students to go to the 108th ranked university, when there are 107 that are better?

Ryno

May 21st, 2009
8:54 am

St. Nick, the reason you hear about this “daily” is that media outlets keep rehashing stuff that was over and done with months ago. Kiffin apologized the first time to Pahokee folks in Feb., but the principal there wanted to get his juice back with his god, Urbie, so he brought it all up again.
The only UT people who don’t like Kiffin are the Fulmersexuals that didn’t want the old coach replaced…which also includes all the schools who moved ahead of us while he drove the program into the ditch.
Four 40+ beatdowns this year? Never happen.

GeoffDawg

May 21st, 2009
8:56 am

I find it extremely hard to believe at this point that Kiffin is somehow unaware of the prevalence of recording equipment practically everywhere he goes. Unless he’s a complete idiot, he has to know that these soundbites are going to get out. This is probably just part of his master plan attract attention (good or bad) to the UT program and you know what – it’s working! We’re talking about it again. Now, if that translates to better recruits and wins, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Robert

May 21st, 2009
8:57 am

Great column, Tony. It is really sad to see the environment of college football today. With the X-gen and Next-gen and Twitter and Facebook, it is a brave new world football coaches have to deal with. It is not the genteel days of the past when coaches like Paul Bryant, Shug Jordan and others would never make a disparaging comment about another coach or another team. Those coaches dealt with far bigger changes in the world of college football than the over paid coaches of today were able to negotiate the changes in a much better and more gentlemanly way.

But to quote Ms. Scarlett…those days are go with the wind.

Gator92

May 21st, 2009
9:04 am

I agree that kiffen is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he is a tool. All of these mistakes and missteps are not a coincidence. There is an obvious pattern of ignorance, arrogance and lack of attention to detail. This will not only show up in EVERY event kiffen is associated with, but will also show up on saturdays come football season. I for one can not wait to see kiffen get his come-uppance. The only thing that may save him from what other wise will be a brutal season is his father’s talent. Nice hire UT. Pretty soon old Phil is going to look pretty good…..

Roswell Ed

May 21st, 2009
9:06 am

You do the Hokey Pahokee and you turn yourself around? Kiffin is a tire fire. Completely out of control. Visit other Roswell Ed musings at libertarianhumor.com. I think y’all will like it.

jackson

May 21st, 2009
9:20 am

Kiffin needs to tone it down. With the national media reporting every time he burps he is becoming an embarassment to the Vols and the SEC.

Ryno, I’m not a Vol fan but I know Fulmer won 100 more games than he lost and he coached in the SEC. How many others can say that? Oh yeah, he won a NC as well. I hope you and all the other what have you done for me lately crowd will look back in 5 years and say what were we thinking?

Gen Neyland

May 21st, 2009
9:25 am

If Kiffin’s erratic verbal behavior isn’t affecting any one individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then why do the sanctimonious among us continue to tar and feather him..? Salem witch hunts and midnight snipe shoots come to mind. Fear the Reaper, et al, for we reap what we sow. BTW, this goes for CLK too. As far as I’m concerned, as long as he doesn’t lie, steal or cheat…well, let me think that one over. GO VOLS

[...] latest blog post.In his view, the best way to keep things like this from happening in the future is “everybody involved has to act like adults.”Well where’s the fun in that?“If you are the head coach at an SEC institution as a rule [...]

Cuz

May 21st, 2009
9:35 am

General you must agree, life would not be worth living without the daily Kiffin report.

To paraphrase Mark Twain. There is alot to say in his favor, but the other is more interesting.

Spike

May 21st, 2009
9:36 am

What Kiffin said was really low rent and uncalled for . I have been to Pahokee many times. It is a very poor area, very poor. But they are rightfully proud of their football program and their sports in paricular. Kiffen saying what he said would give them or anyone else reason to be offended and mad. I don’t blame the principal for wanting an apology, he deserved one.

reservoirDAWG

May 21st, 2009
9:36 am

Gen, are you happy with your coach?

CharlotteGator

May 21st, 2009
9:38 am

It’s funny to me that the HC at Tennessee is gonna disparage communities that don’t have shirts and shoes….

In all seriousness, I’m a recent Gator grad but still think the principal handled it the wrong way. At the end of the day, his job and responsibility is to the students at that school. If going to TN is how they get their education and opportunity in life, who is he to deny them that opportunity. If the TN coaches are cheating or doing something sinister when they’re down there, that’s one thing, but banning them simply because you don’t like them or what they said is not the right response.

I get that Kiffin took a shot at the dude’s community, but c’mon, let’s act like big boys and handle it. You can’t call Kiffin inappropriate, juvenile, and an idiot, but then turn around and respond like Alejo did.

All that said though, there’s nothing like the SEC. Can’t wait for college football season to get here. Really looking forward to the TN, UGA, and LSU games. Only the Sept. 19th seems like a sure win, and the other two will be a lot of fun to watch.

Humor

May 21st, 2009
9:40 am

I’m just glad Kiffin is still coach. He is sure to provide lots of humor for at least this year and probably next year.

RAMBLE ON!!!

May 21st, 2009
9:41 am

This only happens in the SEC, “adults acting like kids”.

Coach "O"

May 21st, 2009
9:41 am

HEY BABY KITTEN… GET ME ANOTHER PBR GALLL DAWWWGIT! AND WHERE THE HECK IS YOUR WIFE? SEND HER OVER U LITTLE SQUIRT! AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH

Jim Rome

May 21st, 2009
9:47 am

Tire fire…LOL.
Thanks and welcome back Roswell Ed !

Kiffin is energizing the fan base that went to sleep under the Fulmer regime. He isn’t stupid- he knows exactly what he is doing.
Of course, the backlash will be hard, but if he can dish it out I for one think he will be man enough to take what comes his way.
First example will be September 19.

Cuz

May 21st, 2009
9:48 am

RambleOn, have you auditioned for the Blue Collar comedy tour yet? Dude, too funny.

GeoffDawg

May 21st, 2009
9:53 am

Did rambleon just comment on someone else acting immaturely? I think the Cubs just won the World Series.

Kid Ray

May 21st, 2009
9:54 am

The Pahokee Principal had Kiffin publicly apologize because he could. Kiffins needs Pahokee more than Pahokee needs UT. Note to Kiffin..when you have no leverage…don’t overplay your hand. Pahokee Principal has the leverage and used it. Good for him. Otherwise people in Pahokee call for his head “why didnt you stick up for us?” etc.
He has got to play to his constituents. right?

gatorman770

May 21st, 2009
10:04 am

Personally I’d like to see and hear more of Ms. Kiffin and less of Goatch Kiffin till the season starts!

Gen Neyland

May 21st, 2009
10:05 am

reserviorDAWG : If that question were asked of me by a prosecuting attorney and the answer he/she demanded be a yes or no, I’d say yes…If I had an opportunity to explain, I’d say this, “Firstly, I’m for Team. The leader of my Team says and does some things I wish he wouldn’t. Be that as it may, he is leading the Tennessee Volunteers. He is their HC and if the Team is willing to buy into his ways and means, then maybe, just maybe, good things football will come Atop Rocky.”…now pose your same question about our president.

Cuz : You know any Kiffin topic results in a frenzy of burn UT at the stake from all my SEC friends and foes. CLK is the fuel that lights the fire. I won’t fan the flames but I won’t wee-wee on it either. To quote Gen George Patton, Jr., ” If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.”

G8R GRAD

May 21st, 2009
10:23 am

“The man who says everything he thinks, has no friends.”

Apparently, he must make a few apologies along the way as well!

DawginLex

May 21st, 2009
10:26 am

You can act the way Kiffin does and the way spurrier used to and still does when you win. Spurrier doesn’t win enough anymore and is about to be shown the door in the chicken coop.

Kiffin better win sooner rather than later or his act will get him tossed sooner rather than later.

buckblue

May 21st, 2009
10:26 am

That is what you get when you send a boy….lame kiffen….to do a mans job….coach in the sec….i feel sorry for ut….urban is going to drop 75 on the vols….not to mention what nick will and can do….ouch

like they say nothing sux likd a big orange

deacondog

May 21st, 2009
10:36 am

First of all gatorman770, Mrs. Kiffin has to be nuts to marry that loony toon, but the money is probably worth it.

I agree with Mr. Barnhart. The principles reaction to this was way over the top. It is a battle for the mayors and the superintendents to handle. Somebody has hit on this already in the blog, but how many secondary violations can an institution pile up before it becomes a major problem?

m

May 21st, 2009
10:38 am

Lil Kiffy has definitely given tennerrseee the publicity, even if he does look like a fool doing it.

However, the harsh reality is going to set in this fall that tennerrseee does not have a QB. If Lil Kiffy doesn’t realize what happens when you get caught without a QB, he should look at what happened to Michigan and Rich Rodriguez last year….3-9 for the first time in school history.

If tennerrseee fall flat on their faces this fall, which is very possible without a decent QB, then Lil Kiffy’s honeymoon will be short lived indeed.

Of course, like last year, the sec is so weak overall that it may not matter.

Miles

May 21st, 2009
10:43 am

Why are these people such morons? Why don’t they learn to shut their mouths? Where’s the maturity? The professionalism? Mike Hamilton’s hire of Kiffin is absolutely outrageous!

G8R GRAD

May 21st, 2009
10:45 am

In case anyone’s interested:
It was upset city at yesterday’s SEC Tournament in Birmingham.

Arkansas upset UF;
UGA upset Ole Miss;
Vandy upset LSU; and
USC upset UA.

Arky to play UGA;
Ole Miss to play UF;
Vandy to play USC; and
UA to play LSU today.

G8R GRAD

May 21st, 2009
10:55 am

gatorman770:

Why? Is she a looker?

VolPowers

May 21st, 2009
10:55 am

All you rival fans who come on here just so you can get your (no doubt) countless shots in at Lane crack me up. You guys sound like a bunch of little girls….”he said I cheated, he called me a name, waaaaaaa”. It’s called sarcasm. Adults use it….quite often. We didn’t whine and cry when Spurrier made all his cracks about UT, the FSU crowd didn’t cry either. The fact that you fall for the media’s load of crap when they pile on Kiffin (hook, line, and sinker) or you take potshots at solid writers like Barhart when he actually tries to teach you little princesses something is HILARIOUS. Grow up! If you think he’s a moron, don’t listen to him! Good lord!?!?

Look, if the guy can’t win, he’ll be gone. But if you haven’t noticed, and judging by your childish comments you haven’t, recruiting is upticking quite a bit. It’s going to take some time to turn around the crap recruiting that Fulmer degraded to the last few years, and we’re well aware of it. That’s why folks sound like utter fools when you play the wait til what happens on September 19th card!?! We don’t have the players to beat the Gayturds yet, it’s going to take some time-it doesn’t take an idiot to realize that (or does it?). If they blow us out this fall, who cares, they did so each of the last two years as well! We need offensive linemen, not moral victories. They’ve won 2 NC’s out of the last 3. They’re level of success is what we all want to get to, so if our boy is gigging them a little, having some fun, what the hell should they care?!?!?!? Seriously.

Anonymous

May 21st, 2009
10:59 am

VolPowers:

Enough caffiene, my friend.
Time to switch to decaf.

Buz

May 21st, 2009
11:00 am

The students were the real losers in this fiasco. They watched as a principal and a college football coach acted like three-year-olds. What do those students think?

Mort Merkel

May 21st, 2009
11:01 am

I have no problem with what the principal did. But that’s probably colored by the fact I think Kiffin is a dolt, who should receive scorn 24/7/365.

AlwaysAVol

May 21st, 2009
11:11 am

G8R GRAD, not only is she a looker, she is a former gator. LMAO I don’t know why no one pays attention to what Coach Kiffin is saying. This time last year, he was a job applicant. He came into the game very late, has an excellent recruiting year (all things considered), has assembled a top notch coaching staff, and is constantly in the news. Who was the last coach you remember getting this much publicity, loved or hated? Does Spurrier come to mind? It’s all just a curcus, a lot of it smoke and mirrors to get the kid’s attention. Kiffin has done more with his antics than Auburn could with a hundred limos. Will Kiffin be successful? Show me in September. Is he memorable? You tell me..

Anonymous

May 21st, 2009
11:11 am

What about “Twitter-Gate?”

“Tennessee football has run into more trouble with the NCAA rulebook.

On coach Lane Kiffin’s Twitter and Facebook pages Tuesday, a newly hired personal assistant posted: “It’s a beautiful day in Knoxville, Tennessee today. I was so exited [sic] to hear that J.C. Copeland committed to play for the Vols today!”

University employees are barred from mentioning prospects by name until they have signed letters of intent.”

(snorkle)

G8R GRAD

May 21st, 2009
11:17 am

Just Googled Layla Kiffen.

MOMMA!

Gatorzone

May 21st, 2009
11:27 am

G8R GRAD, welcome to the party! Everyone has been talking of her since Lame’s press conference at his hiring.

AltamahaDawg

May 21st, 2009
11:28 am

Please Tony, do not tell us of any juvenile behavior. We will have none of that in here.

G8R GRAD

May 21st, 2009
11:30 am

Sorry, Gatorzone.

When you’re up to your a$$ in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your initial directive was to drain the swamp!

Anonymous

May 21st, 2009
11:32 am

Please AltamahaDawg, do not tell us of any sarcasm. We will have none of that in here.

mightyKC

May 21st, 2009
11:47 am

the principal stood up for his community…this was not a lifetime ban, it was a ban for a few months…nobody missed any opportunities, settle down folks.

UGADawg83

May 21st, 2009
12:02 pm

I still can’t move past a UT coach saying “For those who haven’t been to Pahokee, there ain’t much going on. You take that hour drive up from South Florida, there ain’t a gas station that works. Nobody’s got enough money to even have shoes or a shirt on.” Sounds to me like that is a pretty good description of the metropolitan Knoxville area.

G8R GRAD

May 21st, 2009
12:03 pm

Nice to see Uf’s still turning out blonde bombshells!

TommyP

May 21st, 2009
12:11 pm

Here’s what I don’t get. Tony is saying that the coverage of this story has been blown way out of proportion yet he posts his 2nd article (in back to back days????) on the topic?

The principal handled it well. If you blame anyone, blame the MEDIA for going on and on about it.

C’mon…”Nobody’s got enough money to even have shoes or a shirt on.” The Principal needs to stand up for these people and support them. He’s not costing his students any chances in life. If a player is good enough to be recruited by Tennessee, he’s good enough to be recruited by 30 other Div.I schools.