Kiffin: No more apologies

 

 

Destin, Fla.—Lane Kiffin did apologize for using the word “cheat” and Urban Meyer in the same sentence back in February. He was wrong and the SEC commissioner let him know it with an official reprimand.

But the new Tennessee coach ain’t apologizing for anything else and here’s why: Given the realities of the football program he inherited, Kiffin believes he was just doing what he had to do to jump-start the process of making the Volunteers a contender again.

“Do I love everything I had to do to get us to this point? No I don’t but my job is not to love everything that I do,” Kiffin said as he met with the collective SEC media for the first time on Tuesday. “My job is to do the best thing for our university and the best thing for our people.”

Kiffin, 34, has ruffled more than a few feathers since joining the SEC coaching fraternity last December. The episodes have been well documented so we won’t review them here. But here at the annual SEC spring meetings, where he sat down with his fellow coaches for the first time on Tuesday, Kiffin said his aggressive approach to date is simply what the job requires.

“I think as you look at this job (Tennessee) you have to have a national presence,” Kiffin said. “We’re not fortunate enough to be able to sign 23 or 25 players from our state. When you become a head coach, you take a specific plan into a job. This one, as I looked at it, needed to have a spark immediately as far as exposure.”

Kiffin’s point was that he had to do some unconventional things to get Tennessee noticed nationally. Some of his controversial decisions drew scorn in the national media and from fellow coaches. Kiffin had a little dust up with Steve Spurrier, who wondered if Kiffin had taken his NCAA recruiting test before calling prospects. Turns out he had taken the test and Kiffin wondered if he was going to get an apology. The two rode in an elevator on Tuesday and patched it up, but not before Spurrier reminded the young coach that he never accused him of cheating. He simply asked the question.

Kiffin and Meyer? That relationship is going to take some work and, given the jobs they hold, will remain chilly. Meyer said the key to the situation is to be “professional.” But he also admitted that it wasn’t easy.

But here’s the reality: While Kiffin’s style in the past six months has gone against the grain, it also made Tennessee the most talked-about 5-7 team in college football. And six months into the job, Kiffin said, the plan is working. Tennessee closed fast in recruiting, signing a Top 10 class that included running back Bryce Brown, rated by some services as the No. 1 player in the nation.

“If you look at the plan over six months you’d have to say it is going extremely well. There aren’t any six-year plans anymore,” Kiffin said. “None of you guys are going to write ‘Well, they will be good six years from now.’ To sit back and say we’ll take it easy and sit in the weeds and say someday we’ll sign a Top 10 class….we didn’t have time to do that.”

Kiffin said that he hopes the other coaches in the SEC understand that every job is different. What might work at one place may not work at another. His job is not to make friends among the SEC coaches or the media.

“I was hired to satisfy three groups of people. No. 1 is our people, our fans, the people of Tennessee. I think they are extremely excited. We had the second largest attendance we’ve ever had for a spring game.

“No. 2, our own players. I think some of the things that we’ve done puts it back on your own players. They know you’ve gone out and said some things about what you’re going to do and what you’re going to accomplish. When you’re working out with your players at 5:30 in the morning they come up to you and say ‘Thanks for doing that coach. It makes us want to work that much harder because we’ve got your back.

“No. 3 is recruiting because it’s the lifeblood of the program. I don’t think if you took a conservative approach—whether you thought it was right, wrong, or indifferent—I don’t think there is any way you sign that class and there isn’t any way you sign the No. 1 player in the country. There are some things that have to be done specifically for this particular job.

“As you look at kids today they respond to confidence a lot. Guys that we’ve signed talk about the confidence they feel from the staff. We’re not backing down and kids like that. They like the energy around our program.”

Before his first face-to-face meeting with Meyer since the comments in February, Kiffin was asked if he felt the need to apologize again.

“I really haven’t thought about it. I would expect everybody to understand that we all have a job to do,” said Kiffin. “But I did request that coach Meyer and I would get adjoining rooms (at the hotel).”

He was kidding. At least I think he was.

This is going to be an interesting fall.

 

 

184 comments Add your comment

baconboy

May 27th, 2009
12:30 pm

I think UT fans may want to make a distinction between a good recruiting staff and a good coaching staff. Kiffin did a good job of hiring a bunch of guys that can recruit, but you still have to develop the players and make them better. His dad may have been successful in the NFL, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into college success (see Charlie Weis). Again, Ron Zook is the perfect example — great recruiter, but not so good at getting the best out of his players. And given what Houston Nutt did at Ole Miss last year I think Orgeron may fit into that category too.

Right now the kids may buy into what Kiffin is doing, but now is the easy time. What will they do when they’ve gotten their butt kicked? Meyer didn’t have buy in problems until they started losing games (the tipping point being the 2005 loss to USCe).

Just because the assistants are the highest paid doesn’t mean the verdict isn’t still out on their quality.

Frozen_Gator

May 27th, 2009
12:30 pm

Well and good, Kiffin has gotton a little publicity out of this. When the beatings start coming in the fall the false bravado won’t be so cool and the same questions will asked over and over again by the media. WHAT WAS A SMALL POSITIVE MAY TURN INTO A LARGE NEGATIVE.

Carroll

May 27th, 2009
12:36 pm

Kiffin will still be coaching at Tenn when urbby and timmy get married and move to San Francisco and nicky a regular on WWF.

whitx2

May 27th, 2009
12:38 pm

Well, i am out of here guys, got to go to al.com to see what the aubs are talking about today. Probably the sos, bama getting the death penalty and giving away cars in Gadsden. Ya’ll have a nice day and be safe. Later…Whit.

Anonymous

May 27th, 2009
12:38 pm

GeoffDawg,

“He may or may not be the top coach in the SEC but one thing he is not is a loud mouth, obnoxious jerk.”

Implying what, that Coach Meyer is?

GeoffDawg

May 27th, 2009
12:41 pm

What does TS stand for anyway? Transexual?

Anonymous – yes, Coach Meyer is a great coach but he’s also a jerk. That’s just the way it is.

Spike

May 27th, 2009
12:42 pm

I need two tickets to the UF-UT game. Got any?

Anonymous

May 27th, 2009
12:43 pm

When, exactly, has Coach Meyer been loud OR obnoxious?

Two late timeouts in last year’s GA/FL game were well within the rules (read that: perfectly LEGAL).
Dancing in the end zone wasn’t.
Who then better fits the description of “obnoxious” in that scenario?

Brit's Knee

May 27th, 2009
12:44 pm

Seems like the same reasoning would apply to B. Spears when she showed her hoo-hah to the world. Do something outrageous to get talked about — brilliant!

Speaking of brilliant: “This is going to be an interesting fall.” — T. Barnyard

Anonymous

May 27th, 2009
12:45 pm

Apparently nothing irritates a Dawg fan more than a smug Gator.

PaulC

May 27th, 2009
12:47 pm

Bacon,

Fulmer could recruit but couldn’t develop players, that’s why he’s gone. You’re correct though, it is too early to tell if Kiffin will turn out to be a good coach, and a good recruiter doesn’t always equal a good coach. I would simply say that we’ve got lots of proven coaching commodities on staff who have earned their way into the NFL. You can’t argue with that type of success. My point in responding to Gator fans, is there’s nothing to indicate that we’ve made the wrong hire. Not. A. Thing.

UT>UGA

May 27th, 2009
12:49 pm

It’s not like UGA EVER rises to the level of their own hype. Moreno was supposed to be the second coming of Hershel Walker until Eric Berry kicked his teeth in. At least UGA is consistent; they’ve got permanent 50 yard line seats to _watch_ the SEC Champ game each year.

GeoffDawg

May 27th, 2009
12:51 pm

lol anonymous, sensitive much? – think outside your little box for a second and try to realize that being obnoxious and doing everything legally are not mutually exclusive. You think Spurrier wasn’t being an obnoxious jerk in the 90’s?

Doc 54

May 27th, 2009
12:52 pm

I am not a UGA fan, but I agree with the posts regarding the character of Mark Richt. The end zone celebration was supposed to involve the players on the field, but got out of hand. Such things happen when you are dealing with 18-20 year olds, and I believe CMR has learned his lesson. Lane Kiffin has yet to prove he is capable of learning from his mistakes. The good news for Vol fans is there is still time for him to learn: if he is willing to do so. The bad news is the fact this lesson may come at the price of his team being destroyed on the field several times this coming season.

TS

May 27th, 2009
12:54 pm

Abbreviation for “Tater Salad”

I still think Kiffin will last longer at UT then Stafford will at the Lions. Which was the worse pick-up?

GeoffDawg

May 27th, 2009
12:58 pm

If nothing else, they’re both now millionaires and probably don’t give a rat’s rear end for what their detractors think.

wxwax

May 27th, 2009
1:07 pm

Funny how y’all are focused on TN getting beat downs from FL and AL this season.

Big deal.

Check back in year two and year three of the program. Then we can talk about it.

Someone said Spurrier had a bigger recruiting problem at South Carolina and never made the noise that Kiffin has. Yeah? And how’s that worked out for Spurrier? Kiffin would never get the time that Spurrier’s been granted.

I like how Kiffin’s stirring things up. I like the energy and upbeat attitude in his program. He’s fun, unlike the mirthless Saban and Meyer and Miles and Petrino.

And the more SEC fans whine, the more I like him! :-)

Brooks

May 27th, 2009
1:17 pm

Paul C, Do you remember any other D1 coaches having to use the method and foolishness that Kiffin has to “promote” their program? Do you think he is “raising Tennessee’s profile” or making himself and the university look bad? If you weren’t a Tennessee fan would you think that Kiffin is a full of himself unproven coach who likes to hear himself speak like everybody else?

baconboy

May 27th, 2009
1:18 pm

Mirthless?? Meyer doesn’t look too mirthless in this picture: http://www.tampabay.com/multimedia/archive/00052/C2S_uffrontB010909_52139d.jpeg

athensdawg

May 27th, 2009
1:32 pm

kiffy is doing what he has to in order to bring the kids to town and excite the fan base.

now, the question is…..can he close the deal?
Stay tuned, folks……

Soulja Boy

May 27th, 2009
1:33 pm

If Kiffin wins a game, expect him to send his whole team on the field to dance in the end zone.

PaulC

May 27th, 2009
1:44 pm

Brooks,

It doesn’t matter whether Kiffin is following in the footsteps of another coach in building his program. What matters are results, and the calendar dictates we won’t be seeing any results until the Fall. And given what Kiffin inherited, we won’t be seeing true results until 2011 when he’s had time to string together three successful recruiting classes. To answer your question, yes, if I were a fan of another school I’d hate Kiffin too. That’s exactly how he wants things to be.

Impeach Obama

May 27th, 2009
1:48 pm

Georgia Football: We talk a big game ,we just cant win one.

tennezz

May 27th, 2009
1:49 pm

Kiffin is here to stay and coming to a town near you, Get over it cry babies! We know florida and alabama are going to beat us this year no matter who the coach is, But it`s going to get a lot tougher after this year!!!

[...] Not to be outdone, Tony Barnhart weighed in on the topic, too. Barnhart’s take: Kiffin isn’t apologizing anymore for the things he has done since [...]

Huh?

May 27th, 2009
1:59 pm

Tennessee Football: We talk a big game, but only went 5-7 and lost to freaking Wyoming. Please put us out of our misery.

UrbanMyth

May 27th, 2009
2:02 pm

What are all you gaytors going to do if Ol’ Lane some how pulls the upset in his first season?

Huh?

May 27th, 2009
2:05 pm

“It’s not like UGA EVER rises to the level of their own hype. Moreno was supposed to be the second coming of Hershel Walker until Eric Berry kicked his teeth in.”

Nay, Eric Berry played a clean game. It was some defensive lineman of yours that was taking body shots at him on the ground. CBS had a camera right on it and made sure that every viewer across the nation saw what a class act you hillbillies have got going up there. You stay classy hillbillies.

Got 12?

May 27th, 2009
2:11 pm

I am a fan of another SEC team, and I’m happy Kiffin is a coach in our league. I welcome CLK just as I welcome Chizik at Auburn.

Besides Saban, three other SEC coaches have won national championships (as head coaches). As much as anyone else, I like to brag about how tough the SEC is but we also need some deadweight to balance things out.

[...] the flip side, Tony Barnhart is sort of giving Kiffin the benefit of the doubt for [...]

tennezz the loser

May 27th, 2009
3:00 pm

tennezz

“We know florida and alabama are going to beat us this year”

What a loser, conceding defeat already.

alsim

May 27th, 2009
3:16 pm

There may be some real rivalries in the SEC. Some may even use the word “hate”. But the SEC is rooted on gentlemanly behavior. Kiffin is a thug, an enciter and bad for football.

Imagine what he is telling these impressionable kids behind closed doors. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are the most penalized team this season.

gatorman770

May 27th, 2009
3:28 pm

After Tebow is gone John Brantley is going to lightup the score board with touchdown passes!

PaulC

May 27th, 2009
3:29 pm

alsim,

Yea, inciting your opponent just has no place in college football! Boy, imagine what kind of words Kiffin uses in a locker room to fire up his players! He might say heck, darn, rats, fiddlesticks! What are you, a nun? Get over yourself! BTW, nobody’s heard a peep out of the Vols this off season, which reflects the type of discipline Kiffin is stressing. No arrests, no suspensions, no cheating or other off-the-field stuff like you see going on at other programs. Sorry, nice try but no sale.

ReptilesRule!

May 27th, 2009
3:34 pm

PaulC…You know, even though we were rivals, even with some of the classic 90″s battles, I still had respect for the Tennessee Football program. To me, it seems Kiffin has taken a proud program and made it a mockery with the philosophy of whatever the means, the ends are justified. It would seem to me, that like Florida, Tennessee would ALWAYS feel it had more than enough to sell without resorting to moronic and unprofessional behavior. I sincerely hope and I pray that the University of Florida NEVER gets to the point that it feels that it has to stoop to those levels in order to bring recruits and publicity!

valley vol

May 27th, 2009
3:38 pm

Hey, SEC there’s a new sheriff in K’town. Get your licks in before Kiffin the field house with his own recruits. Any of you blow hards wanna bet the over and under on fla,ga,ala or sc?

valley vol

May 27th, 2009
3:43 pm

Ment to say stocks the field house!!

Got 12?

May 27th, 2009
3:51 pm

Kiffin seems to be a lot tougher when talking to the media than in the presence of his fellow SEC coaches:

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/sec/0-6-237/Spurrier-confronts-Kiffin-at-SEC-meetings.html

This confrontation happened in front of the media. It will be even funnier when the video is leaked.

Got 12?

May 27th, 2009
3:59 pm

I’m listening to Finebaum right now. A sports talk radio station in Columbia, 107.5, has audio of the Spurrier-Kiffin confrontation. You hear Spurrier talking and the media folks laughing . Kiffin was completely silent.

Is that what Kiffin is about? Is that what UT’s football program is now about–talking tough then cowering like a stray?

PaulC

May 27th, 2009
4:03 pm

Reptiles,

The only respect Tennessee fans/players/coaches are after is the type of respect that is earned by kicking the crap out of their opponents. Like I said earlier, we won’t realize that respect until later down the road, and until then, we’ll take our shots. But I believe Kiffin is laying the foundation. He’ll either win or he won’t and if he does then none of this petty BS stuff will matter a hill of beans. And BTW, it’s not as though Kiffin’s entire approach to recruiting is smart aleck remarks. He’s selling the University, facilities, and the chance to make it in the NFL. This other stuff is just window dressing.

Dave

May 27th, 2009
4:07 pm

Reptiles, as a proud Gator I couldn’t have said it better. Can you imagine Coach Meyer or Coach Strong ripping off their shirts or saying some of those things to get recruits to come to THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA!!! The day that happens is the day Meyer WILL go to Notre Dame…via Federal Express! Tennessee fans seem to think that Kiffin has been vindicated by his recruiting class, primarily by getting Bryce Brown. But we know that until you strap it up and win big games, all of those stars and recruiting ratings mean zip, zero. It’s nice to have the top rated class and gives fans temporary bragging rights, but I have yet to see a trophy passed out or rings sized on National Signing Day. Speaking of the 90’s, do you remember when Georgia seemed to get all the players but we would win all the games?? Myself, I’ll take the games. Remember that super duper recruit named Brock Berlin?? We were already calling our offensive line the “Berlin Wall”! How many games much less championships did he win for us?? Or for that matter, for Miami where he transferred?! YOU HAVE TO DO IT ON THE FIELD!!!

LMAO!

May 27th, 2009
4:08 pm

“He’s selling the University”

Georgia Gator

May 27th, 2009
4:13 pm

The only thing Lame Kitten is “selling” is the same thing you shovel out of the back of a truck for fertilizer.

PaulC

May 27th, 2009
4:22 pm

Ah, good one Georgia Gator. Now everything is in perspective. I take back everything I just said. Kiffin should be fired tomorrow.

Complain all you want about Kiffin, he likes to be hated.

Georgia Gator

May 27th, 2009
4:46 pm

Is it that, “he likes to be hated,” or is it an utter lack of good taste and class.

Gen Neyland

May 27th, 2009
4:47 pm

Lane Kiffin is not making Lane Kiffin. It’s the people that jeer, mock, shoot smack and envoke his name in wild crazed frenzies, one after another, that’s the making of Lane Kiffin…That’s the weird twist of a mob mentality. He just very well succeed, if not sooner (THEN later) off the words and ridicule of others. What a hoot…

dogfan

May 27th, 2009
4:59 pm

Ole Lane’s strategy for getting himself and UTenn noticed maybe working fine. But the results must come on the field. And with Tenn fans the results better be good and come damn fast. The problem now is that if (probably when) UTenn gets their butts kicked on the field he’ll get the wrong kind of publicity. And the potential recruits will take notice then too.

Jack G.

May 27th, 2009
5:14 pm

As I have said before, all this Kiffin bashing is much ado about nothing.
I also think he is going to have a lot of you eating your words about what other teams are going to do to Tenn. this fall.
Tenn had alot of good football players last year, but the coaching left a lot to bae desired. If for nothing else it lacked fire. Kiffin seems to have brought a lot of both back to the Vols.
IF they can develope a QB they will really be tough. They may have some initial problems scoreing points, but papa Kiffin is one hell of a defensive coach, and no one is going to run up a big score on his defense.
Before you start yelling, I am not a big Vol fan. Just not being influnced by all this hype.

dawgdays

May 27th, 2009
5:51 pm

All of the above trash talk aside, Kiffin has in a few days put together arguably the best coaching staff in college football–attracted a top recruiting class with the #1 rated player in the country– is making players go to class–gets them up at dawn to work out in a vigorous conditioning program–has kicked the unwilling off the team to make room for more top recruits–got the home fans excited. Those are great accomplishments so far. Whether or not this translates to wins remains to be seen, but it can’t hurt. Kiffin has been dealt a hand with no QB, although it would not be surprising if the staff can coach one up to be serviceable. The defense will be pretty good as far as I can tell.

My concern is that Kiffin has left schollies open for a huge group of top recruits next year. If he and the resident NFL staff does half as well recruiting next year as this year, he might fill the roster with top players.

I want to be realistic, but I see trouble on the way for us.Two 2 years ago they hung 51 points on our dawgs when Fulmer was coach. That hurt the next day when I had to face them at work. We don’t need to motivate them any more with our trash talk. Everyone seems to be against them now and there is no greater motivator than “me against the world”.

Pitbill

May 27th, 2009
5:55 pm

Ever since Lame Kiffen was hired, he has been writing checks his team will not be able to cash. There will be 8 SEC teams waiting to beat UT down just to put Lame in his place.

And don’t think the Vol players arn’t going to hear it on the field from the other teams’ players. I expect Lame’s players to begin resenting him for putting them in that position. More will be leaving after this coming season.

Lame is in a no win situation as is UT and he will be gone with an embarrassing losing record in 3 years.