Are SEC rivals turning Tennessee, Kiffin in to NCAA?

Here's Lane Kiffin doing interviews Thursday. This seldom turns out well.

Here's Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin doing interviews Thursday. This seldom turns out well.

Sitting on stage, unaccompanied by blonde recruiting hostesses (good news) but still clearly devoid of a filter between his brain and mouth (oops), Lane Kiffin listened as somebody asked what he considered the toughest thing about coaching college football today.

“Following all the rules,” he said. And the room, free of NCAA investigators, broke into laughter.

I’ll say this for Kiffin: Most folks who devolve into a human punch line every 17 minutes eventually learn their lesson and know when to hit the mental mute button. Kiffin soaks it all in and wears the target proudly, like a new tan. There’s something to be said for consistency.

“I thought you guys were getting bored out there,” he said later about the rules comment. “We were answering every question politically correct, so I thought I’d give you something.”

Kiffin coaches Tennessee, at least when he’s not setting the campus on fire. The Volunteers are under NCAA investigation for recruiting violations, the most salacious of which is sending bubbly coeds off campus to high school football games to help lure hormone-raging teenage football players. There’s also all of that other stuff he has said or done since taking the job, from the occasional tweak, to accusing Florida coach Urban Meyer of cheating, to seeing three of his prize recruits arrested for armed robbery.

The good news? He’s not a schlep like Phil Fulmer, so nobody can make fat jokes.

Kiffin was in town Thursday for a news conference to help promote the Chick-fil-A Bowl game. I think Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer also was there. But Beamer’s 228 career wins just didn’t compare to Kiffin’s seven really loud and obnoxious ones. So the spotlight followed Kiffin.

Tennessee has been accused of sending female members of the school's "Orange Pride" off-campus to help recruit.

Tennessee has been accused of sending female members of the school's "Orange Pride" off-campus to help recruit.

He did not torch any particular SEC program (or rule) while in town, although he did remark to Beamer about Georgia’s failed pursuit of Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster, “We’re very glad he’s not going to Georgia.”

But he remarked on the probability that he has made coaching enemies in the conference and that, as fallout, other schools might be turning him into the NCAA.

“I think any time you do something [high profile], there’s going to be good and bad to it,” he said. “The approach we took, the good thing was it gave recognition [of Tennessee] to recruits. But I’m sure some of that stuff has made people more apt to try to find things we’re doing wrong and turn us in.”

But he has no direct knowledge of this.

“When you’re turned in, they don’t tell you what school did it,” he said.

For the record, he again denied any wrongdoing. He also said recent remarks that he viewed the NCAA investigation as a “compliment,” were taken out of context. “The context of the question was about what was going on in recruiting and do you feel like you have a target on your back,” he said. “We’re operating at such a high level, I said I take that as a compliment if people are coming after us and they’re [saying], ‘They’re doing something wrong.’ People come after you when you’re on top.”

Two things. First, the Vols are 7-5. They’re not quite on top. Second, Kiffin’s explanation for his frequent bombastic comments and actions – that it’s all orchestrated to the raise the profile of the Tennessee program – isn’t completely believable. Some of that might be true. But it’s also true that he’s a cocky guy who loves the attention but has been somewhat blindsided by the SEC’s lunatic following.

If Kiffin were a head coach in the Pacific 10, everything he said in Scottsdale, Ariz., wouldn’t detonate in Eugene, Ore. In the SEC,  it’s like a wet finger in an electric socket.

But maybe he is learning just a little. When I mentioned to him I was surprised he didn’t bring any hostesses with him, Kiffin smiled and said, “Come on. I already gave you one line.”

252 comments Add your comment

K-Town Dawg

December 17th, 2009
5:52 pm

His hostesses were busy

Jeff Shultz

December 17th, 2009
5:54 pm

I really think Meyer is much cuter. I dream and he and I(and Tebow) of course..

hubba hubba

December 17th, 2009
6:05 pm

number 3 holy moly

Sonny Clusters

December 17th, 2009
6:08 pm

Ol’ Jeff . . . looking for the hostesses. :-) We was always having pretty hostesses come up to us when we was playing ball but we was also afraid of Coach so we was never getting into any trouble with them. We found that most of the hostesses was just girls from schools around us and not a one of them didn’t like Dairy Queen. Do you remember those little plastic spoons with the Dairy Queen ice cream cone on the end of the spoon? Those suckers was sharp! We was always sticking ‘em in people when we was in school.

Walt

December 17th, 2009
6:13 pm

Delighted to have him on the Hill.

Walt

UT’ 81

merbertmoover

December 17th, 2009
6:15 pm

hey guys, dont be worryin about ol kitty kat! he gonna get fat like the ol pumpkin, just give it some time baby! all they got to eat in tenn is corndogs, chili cheese fries, and donuts….he’ll get fat and his wife leave him and then he get caught in a scandal with that “hostess” earps and then tenn fans be all mad cuz they cant get rich brooks….go miss state!….mmmmmhmmmmm

GoodTraction

December 17th, 2009
6:15 pm

Sonny – We was wonderin’ if you ever go to the Dairy Queen across from The Avenues in west Cobb. We was noticin’ that they have Trivia at 7:30 tonight. We was wonderin if you ever went to Trivia Night at any of the Dairy Queens around. I am a petite girl and have to watch my school girl figure, so can’t make many trips to the Dairy Queen. Was wonderin if they have a good low-fat yogurt parfait?

Ted Striker

December 17th, 2009
6:25 pm

Hostesses have been a part of UT football for years. It’s just that under Fulmer, they were Twinkies Hostesses.

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
6:44 pm

Striker — Thank you, try the veal.

BugKiller

December 17th, 2009
6:44 pm

Jeff,

So, okay, Kiffin isn’t the Great Orange Pumpkin.

Instead, he’s the Giant Orange Douche Bag.

Yeah. That about sums Lame Kiffin up.

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
6:45 pm

Sonny Clusters — I was always partial to the “spork” from KFC.

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
6:46 pm

K-Town — Too busy to visit with the Atlanta media? Come on!

GoodTraction

December 17th, 2009
6:47 pm

We was wonderin what “spork” is.

globeflyer

December 17th, 2009
6:52 pm

I don’t think anyone had to turn UT in; everything they were doing was in plain sight, i.e. pics of the girls at the HS football games. That may turn out to be the “smoke” of other things….

GT

December 17th, 2009
6:54 pm

The U has moved north.

1970Dawg

December 17th, 2009
6:58 pm

Jeff, How long do you estimate the Tenn investigation might go on and
if they determine that UT is guilty on the hostess violation and the recruiting violation in Fla with the former athlete, what do you think the penalty will be?

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
6:59 pm

GoodTraction… Seriously? It was 90 percent spoon but the top edge had teeth like a fork. So you could use it for both. It was a KFC exclusive!

General Jack D. Ripper

December 17th, 2009
7:00 pm

Met one of them “hostesses” once. Later I felt strangely…Yes, a uh, a profound sense of fatigue… a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I… I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence.

Old Dawg

December 17th, 2009
7:07 pm

Nice post, Jeff. Interesting how the only thing readers want are issues related to Kiffin, not his players or incoming recruits. While it’s true head coaches make some headlines, a player like Eric Berry deserves some ink, along with UT QB Crompton, who turned a miserable career into something worthwhile during the second half of the season.

I’m obviously not a UT fan, and I really tired for the whole Kiffin soap opera. Like I’ve written before, Kiffin has taken the game down to the level of professional wrestling. This is, after all, college football we follow.

Ryno

December 17th, 2009
7:07 pm

Yes, even Mike Slive turned him into the NCAA. Why just today, Kiffin stole an extra chicken sandwich for a hostess to take on a trip to see a long snapper.
Jeremy Foley, in a trenchcoat, fake nose and glasses, immediately called the New York Times.

TJ Vol

December 17th, 2009
7:16 pm

Ted Striker

December 17th, 2009
7:16 pm

I had a girlfriend who liked to spoon but she’d always get upset when I tried to spork her.

Mark "Crimson Crier" Ingram

December 17th, 2009
7:18 pm

Hail yeah! Were going to report UT for every conceived NCAA infraction after what Fulmer did. It’s payback time!

ToccoaDawg

December 17th, 2009
7:20 pm

Come on Jeffy. Did you run out of things to say about Virginia Thug U? We Falcon fans know all to well about their players.

DBCOOPER

December 17th, 2009
7:22 pm

If Kiffin wins he will be tolerated at UT. Most SEC schools would sell their souls for 10 wins. Pee Wee Herman could be the coach at UT, if he’s recruiting well (no matter how obnoxious) and they’re winning, Tenneesee fans will embrace satan himself. It’s all about the W in Kville and most other places in the SEC.

ToccoaDawg

December 17th, 2009
7:23 pm

Maybe Lamer Kiffen can pick up some “pointers” from Beamer Ball

Bawny Fwank

December 17th, 2009
7:27 pm

Does the “Orange Pride” male hoestesses provide special services for the the most wanted UT female recruits?

big dawg 89

December 17th, 2009
7:37 pm

to think that when he was in Oakland, i actually took Kiffin’s side… to quote Dierks Bentley “what was i thinking”…

GoodTraction

December 17th, 2009
7:38 pm

Aaaahhh, Jeff – NOW I know what you’re talking about. I’ve been informed that Taco Bell has them, also, FYI.

this is bs

December 17th, 2009
7:41 pm

Bawny Fwank asks…Does the “Orange Pride” male hoestesses provide special services for the most wanted UT female recruits?

Answer…absolutely not! It’s widely known they provide services for the most wanted male recruits…

Chnstrp

December 17th, 2009
7:51 pm

He doesn’t need any of those hostesses. have you seen his wife?

Without-a-clue

December 17th, 2009
7:52 pm

Kiffin should use my “screen name”.

Sonny Clusters

December 17th, 2009
8:06 pm

We was always at the Dairy Queen so we don’t know much about KFC except the kitchen caught on fire a lot. Another utensil that was always helpful was the straw with a little spoon on the bottom. That little straw-spoon was good for getting the ice cream off the bottom of the cup. They was a Dairy Queen in Roswell that was reusing the cups to save some money but they was busted out of Dairy Queen for doing that. Dairy Queen has some very high standards.

Volin Suwanee

December 17th, 2009
8:08 pm

Another day and another article in the AJC about the UT football program. THANKS

Sonny Clusters

December 17th, 2009
8:14 pm

We was never at the DQ in West Cobb because they is still some bad blood between us and Cobb County ever since the incident with Coach at the playoffs. Coach would probably take that back if he could but they got him on video and everybody saw the tattoo. We skipped Dairy Queen that night because we was too scared to eat after seeing that. Coach didn’t miss much time, though, before he was back on the sidelines.

jesse james

December 17th, 2009
8:21 pm

It is not the SEC teams, it is the HOOTERS Corporation. Only their girls are suppose to wear Orange.

GoodTraction

December 17th, 2009
8:23 pm

Also, Sonny, we was wonderin why the West Cobb Dairy Queen would be schedulin their Trivia Night on the same night as Peyton is playin . . . Just wonderin’.

Sonny Clusters

December 17th, 2009
8:31 pm

We was never much good at trivia but we was always playing ball. When we was running down the field being chased by half of Cobb County, we’d just put it in another gear and pull away from ‘em until we got to the end zone and then we’d just toss the ball to the referee and nod over to Coach on the sidelines and jog back to the sideline. We was taught that was how to do it. Today, they is a lot of carrying on after a big run or a big catch or even after a tackle. If we did that, Coach would have us for sure.

Big Dawg

December 17th, 2009
8:35 pm

I hate to say it, but we will never beat UT as long as CMR is at GA………….

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
8:45 pm

1970 Dawg — On first question. Don’t know. But given it’s a multi-state investigation, it could be a while. Second question — conceivably it could be anything from a slap on the wrist to a loss of scholarships. It’s not going to be something as significant as a bowl ban or anything.

45-19

December 17th, 2009
8:46 pm

Marlon Brown is unhappy and transferring to Memphis

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
8:47 pm

Old Dawg — I agree. I think Eric Barry is getting a lot of ink. Kiffin is obviously getting the most, though. But that’s not that unusual, particularly in college, and especially in the SEC.

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
8:47 pm

Ryno — That was Jeremy? I thought he looked familiar.

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
8:47 pm

Striker, Striker, Striker . . .

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
8:48 pm

GoodTraction — Now you’re up to date on your plastic utensil trivia.

uga_b

December 17th, 2009
8:48 pm

I guess I am old school. I prefer when my school isn’t in the news making mistakes. I would love a year where the only stories I hear our about on the field performance and off-the-field excellence.

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
8:49 pm

Jesse James — I had never made that connection before. Think it could be Hooters-Neyland Stadium?

Jeff Schultz

December 17th, 2009
8:50 pm

Uga-B — You might want to follow the Ivy League.

Big time?? Not

December 17th, 2009
8:59 pm

He’s quite smug……will catch up.

GoodTraction

December 17th, 2009
9:00 pm

Sonny – That’s what I’m sayin’. You got Class, handin’ the ball off to the ref . . . Good raisin’.