Kiffin responds, Pahokee principal gets backlash


Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin insists he has apologized more than once to Pahokee principal Ariel Alejo, but hinted that his gestures weren’t being accepted because the principal is loyal to Florida.

“Yeah, I’ve reached out,” Kiffin told “Going way back and even last week. But that’s all I can do and that’s all I can control. Some people’s allegiances are to the college they graduated from.”

Alejo booted one of Tennessee’s assistants off campus in response to the comments that Kiffin made more than three months ago. In this space, we raised the question how effective such moves really are. Kiffin’s answer follows.

“We’ve not seen it affect recruiting at all there, not one bit,” the coach said. “So, we’ll continue to try to reach out to the people who are still upset there, as we have from the beginning. Just continue to compete to make sure everybody feels good about Tennessee football.”

The principal may be getting the approval of Gators fans, but there’s backlash for his actions, too. Clay Travis of NCAA Football FanHouse blasted Alejo for “a ridiculous and colossal misplacement of school time, energy and focus” and said the principal should concentrate on raising below-average test scores rather than baring his fangs against Tennessee. Like Kiffin, he hints that Alejo is doing this out of loyalty to Florida, and said the principal had replaced a Gators logo with the Pahokee seal on his public profile.

One of the more scathing excerpts from Travis, a professed Tennessee fan, follows:

“Principal Alejo should be fired. Right now. Immediately. Whoever is in charge of Florida’s high schools should issue a statement. It should read as follows: ‘We’re happy whenever any of our students receive scholarship offers to attend college. Particularly when those offers arrive for students from comparatively disadvantaged background who have to work twice as hard to achieve their college dreams. Principal Alejo showed not just bad judgment, but his actions were the anti-thesis of the principles we support in Florida schools. He’s been reassigned to janitorial duties in Miami.’ ”

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67 comments Add your comment

SEC fan

May 14th, 2009
9:57 am

Old news. Can’t you guys at the AJC find anything in Georgia or the rest of the SEC to write about? Kiffin is the Octomom of the SEC and you guys can’t seem to get enough of him.


May 14th, 2009
10:00 am

Get Alejo outta there!!

Well that’s good, he changed his logo. I guess he won’t be totally a gator homer anymore.

Yeah right. Give me a break. This guy is a punk.

H.S. Coach

May 14th, 2009
10:00 am

Isn’t Mr. Travis a little biased sense he is a self professed UT fan? I’ve yet to see anyone blast the principal for his decision or any who cares for that matter.

Mike M

May 14th, 2009
10:36 am

Very few kids from this area get the opportunity to go to college. So, why would they want any of their students to go to Tennesses, when 107 schools are rated HIGHER than UT?


May 14th, 2009
10:37 am

Enter your comments here

dawg fan

May 14th, 2009
11:16 am

Man I totally see why that guy got upset! It’s tennessee, the worst team in the SEC. I know I would not want my football rival taking my players! But Georgia is the best so it doesn’t really matter! GO DAWGS!!! SIC’EM!


May 14th, 2009
11:34 am

By the principal kicking out the coach, that won’t stop Tn from recruiting the kids. They will just call the kids instead of seeing them at the high school (which isn’t allowed anyway) other than a ‘bump’. I believe the Principal asked for an apology for the community instead of just for the coach. Sounds like two elementary boys arguing. (you can’t cross my line, well, i just did) …yawn.


May 14th, 2009
11:36 am

Doens’t the NCAA have better things to do that ripping a priniciple in Florida. I don’t know anything about the area or student population but it sounds to me like the NCAA person is making some pretty obnoxious generalizations about the students that go to that school. Perhaps Mr. Travis would be better suited to aim some of his harsh criticism at his own highly flawed employer. Why don’t you take so much focus off SEC progrmas and go make a stand against the highly fraudulent Southern Cal football and basketball programs?


May 14th, 2009
11:39 am

Thank you for balancing your comments. Kiffin made remarks to a group of Tennessee boosters that he has lived to regret. He said things that would never have been given a 2nd thought on the West Coast, but the SEC is a different world. He apologized. Now the principal is being an ass. I hope rational minds prevail and everyone moves on. It will be tough sledding trying to recruit a South Florida HS where the principal is a Florida grad 2X plus he is ticked off, but I am glad the Vols are trying for the best available prospects.


May 14th, 2009
12:20 pm

that’s just complete junk out of that travis guy

kiffen is the one who completely insulted the principle’s school last year when he insinuated that they didn’t know how to operate a fax machine. it was a complete swipe at the whole town down there in pahokee. completely unacceptable.

the pricinple could care less about the recruiting game that went on. his issue was with the utter disrespect that kiffen showed to that entire community.

Sanford Drive

May 14th, 2009
12:34 pm

Kiffin is a tool, but I have to give him his credit. He’s piecing together a real team here. Sure, some of his tactics are questionable, but he’s got a top recruiting class, despite the fact that he had a very late start. He’s taking whatever he can get, but it looks like it’s working. It’s easy to write him off as a smart-alec moron based on comments and actions. While he is a smart-alec, he is certainly not a moron. This guy knows exactly what he is doing, and we’d all be stupid not to take him seriously.


May 14th, 2009
12:49 pm

Kiffin is a tool, but I have to give him his credit. He’s piecing together a real team here.

I’m sorry. What evidence of that is there, again? I’ll believe “it’s working” once we finish better than 9-3, even with next season’s creampuff schedule. If that happens, then I’ll allow myself to get excited. But at this point we’re confusing “Lane’s talked about on the internet a lot” with “Lane’s successful on the football field.” Ron Zook will tell you the two ain’t the same.


May 14th, 2009
12:55 pm

No need to take Lane seriously, he will bury himself and the program further. Lane’s philosophy must be, “Shoot with a shotgun, you are bound to hit something”. He will learn. Once he does, maybe, just maybe, take him seriously. For now, he is just being the Jim Rome of the coaching world in he SEC. A loud, little punk, trying to get noticed. Guess what, Lane, you are noticed. Let’s see what you have come September.


May 14th, 2009
12:56 pm

I can tell you one thing a football scholarship to Tennessee isn’t “all that” notwithstanding what this writer suggests. The princiapl abviously hasn’t interfered with the Tennessee sharks swimming the Pahokke waters for talent. maybe his first concern as a principal who lives in the real world of Pahokee Florida and as a person who sees dreams die hard for many young men..maybe character, integrity matter more. Who in the hell could ever support Lane Kiffin for picking on a small poor community by saying they’re “penniless, shoeless, and shirtless” What a pious A$$hole Lane Kiffin is..he not only hasn’t apologized, he should beg for forgiveness, not from Pahokee but from his own institution. But he Won’t. This has so little to do with college recruiting and everything to do with doing the right thing.


May 14th, 2009
1:00 pm

Well at least we know why Tennessee recruits at this school, from his article “The average SAT at Pahokee is 780, the average ACT is 16.3″ Those inbred Tennessee hillbilly’s need whatever they can scoop off the bottom of the trough.


May 14th, 2009
1:16 pm

Who the hell is Clay Travis and why should we accept HIS opinion as the last word on this subject??? Lane Kiffin, DO what is RIGHT, MAN UP and go down there and apologize to those people who you called out as dishonest, shoeless and shirtless!!! Whats so hard about that!! That will resolve the issue with your coaches on the campus! And from now on, stop being such a pompous PUNK!!!


May 14th, 2009
1:18 pm

Not sure about “princiaple abviously” but you “robert” are an idiot..

UGA for Life

May 14th, 2009
1:23 pm

While i think Kiffin is a total big mouth and is getting what he deserves, we need to look in the mirror at our own staff. There is some stark similarities to Richt and company compared to fat Phil’s rein at UT. If you look at the path each followed-it scares the hell out of me. Both started off young and successfull-Both hauled in top recruiting classes-Both started under achieving and having discipline problems-then recruiting started to slip slowly. Let’s be honest fellow dawg fans-Richt needs to fix this NOW or his seat is gonna get hot quickly. I don’t want to find ourselves in the mess UT is in right now but the trend is scary. JMO-GO DAWGS!


May 14th, 2009
1:27 pm

BTW, does anyone else besides me see a strange pattern between what happened to this guy out at Oakland, when he was called out as being a liar, and during his very short time at Tennessee. Hey, I know it’s Al Davis and that was my exact thoughts when I first heard about what went down out there, but the pattern of behavior by Kiffin in Knoxville seems to confirm the Davis accusations.


May 14th, 2009
1:36 pm

Attending our fine University is better than pumping gas for a living. At least, I think it is…..

Where's Waldo

May 14th, 2009
1:49 pm

1st Lane has appologized. 2 what is said to fire up boosters is no different than any of us shooting the bull nad having frun with our friends (ever said anything when you where having fun with friends that you regretted) 3 Bryce Brown #1 player in America as well as what is considered by many the best running back coming out of High School in the last 5 years. Sounds like the recruits like him.


May 14th, 2009
1:52 pm

UGA 4 LIFE, please quit acting like a dawg fan. I wouldn’t consider #4 in recruiting a ’slippage’ by any sorts. Every QB at UGA is a top 10 qb coming out including Aaron Murray who got ole Urbie upset b/c he didn’t go to FLA.

Last year was another top 10 season under Richt’s belt, make that 6 out of 7, fat Phil never did that. Look at the WR and TE’s that have been signed just the last two years. Aaron White-#1, Arthur Lynch-top 5, and Orson Charles (who USC is still mad about), Matt Barkley gave up his # where OC would come. Hmm, AJ Green #2, Marlon Brown #2, see a theme here? Recruiting might be getting better!


May 14th, 2009
2:03 pm

Waldo, I haven’t read where anyone said Brown was the clear best this year much less the last 5 years. If so, please provide a link as I would like to read it. I’m sure bama fans are happy with Richardson as dawg fans are happy with Ealey. Brown’s agent has many raising an eyebrow towards any of his ‘clients’. Nothing against Bryce, but the agent reminds me of an used car salesman.

Diamond Dawg

May 14th, 2009
2:09 pm

Said before and I will again Kitten will have that program on probation in two to three years if that long. He takes all rejects and thugs and does not know the ncaa rulebook very well. On top of that he has successfully fired up every team in the SEC. Congrats Vols fans you got a good one. HA HA Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


May 14th, 2009
2:24 pm

I really do not know what will happen in K-Town this fall, but there are a few items of note that many bloggers seem to be overlooking.

1) Kiffin may be a giant horse’s backside, but his staff (which TN paid a ton of bucks for) all have records to stand on. Hopefully THEY will be doing the coaching.

2) Considering that UT is coming out of a 5/6 season, the recruiting is going well.

3) You Dawgs still have not found the WMDs (Willy Martinez Defense which gave up a lot of points last year). Plus you lost some of your best players to the NFL.

4) The Dawgs may have won more than they have lost against TN during the Richt era, but we are what? 3/3 over the last six seasons. I admit, you beat us up last year, but then we had an offense that could not score in a Mexican cathouse with new hundred dollar bill taped to their foreheads. It can’t get any worse.

Now Florida on the other hand will probably lay half a hundred on TN and GA. They are fixed talent wise for several years. My point is that I think FL can talk trash (and for the record, I think Kiffen was a fool for calling Urban Meyer out), but UGA…I don’t think so Tim.


May 14th, 2009
2:37 pm

Stunning to read that publically acknowledged TENNESSEE FAN Clay Travis thinks that way. Perhaps next time you could know someone’s background before quoting them as if they’re a neutral commenator?


May 14th, 2009
2:51 pm

Ok, I was wondering who Clay Travis is and why Maxie would be pointing towards his opinion…He’s a Tennessee fan!!! Gee, why didn’t you just link us directly to Kiffins secretary??? On the otherhand, maybe not such a good idea.


May 14th, 2009
2:54 pm

1) based on what? Kiffin’s losing record or Orgeron’s losing record? He didn’t hire ‘coaches’ just recruiters

2) It’s called early playing time

3) that’s funny

4) never say never, look at your offense last year…you thought you would be better as you were ‘excited’ about the new clawson offense and I believe most ‘vol fans’ thought he would become the next HC at UT

Sanford Drive

May 14th, 2009
3:14 pm

Wow VolWiz,

Congratulations. You missed my point completely. I was just saying he’s done a good job recruiting kids despite having a late start. I never said anything about success on the football field.


May 14th, 2009
3:15 pm

the Truth

“you thought you would be better as you were ‘excited’ about the new clawson offense and I believe most ‘vol fans’ thought he would become the next HC at UT” most of the long time Vol fans were wondering “who is this clown, andd why are we recruiting an offensive coordinator from a AA school when we could raise enough money from three or four alumni to pay for anyone we wanted. I thought it was an unbelievably “substitute another word here for “crappy” choice. There might have been some who were trying to publicly pretend it was a great choice, but privately that was not my experience. Clawson was a fool, and it was obvious by mid season that he was doing nothing to teach fundementals to the QBs. Nope Truth, Vol fans did not as a rule support that choice at all…and it helped bring Fulmer down.


May 14th, 2009
3:31 pm

A public letter of apology was required by the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce President. In his letter to Kiffin he wrote:

“A public letter of apology to the proud, hard working residents of Pahokee, the professional staff of Pahokee Middle-Senior High School, and the dedicated coaching staff of PHS would be an appropriate response to this letter.”

If a public letter of apology was written by Kiffin or his staff, I haven’t seen it or heard of it. The only statement of apology that he has made was a verbal one in which he said:

“If I offended anybody in Pahokee or has to do with Pahokee or in the schools, I apologize and I want to make sure it’s understood that is not what was meant by it at all.”

First off, an “if you were offended” apology is not a true apology. He’s only saying he’s sorry you were offended, not sorry that he uttered the degrading words in the first place. Secondly, he says his quote is not what he meant by it. If not, then what the heck were you REALLY trying to say?

Kiffin and his staff are being held to the terms of the letter from the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce. Since no proper apology has been given, I can’t fault the school or the city for still being upset.


May 14th, 2009
3:59 pm

The principal isn’t stopping the recruiters from contacting the kids, just from stepping foot on school grounds (which is his right). If I was him and had a coach bad-mouth my school, my faculty, and the entire community with that crack about being too stupid to buy shoes, I wouldn’t want anybody from UT at my school either. Kiffin should issue a public apology in the town paper, not just apologizing to the principal but to everyone who lives in that small town.


May 14th, 2009
4:30 pm

Now, we understand where Al Davis was coming from. I personally thought Al was just being his old obnoxious self, but NOT REALLY! This guy is classless and if the City of Pahokee is so dishonest, shoeless and shirtless, then why he is down there recruiting their kids? Evidently, he saw something down there he wanted and pursued. UT Kiffin reminds me of a big ole kid in a candy store and his daddy won’t let him buy any. He is very immature and very insecure and seems to be intimidated being in the SEC. So guess what, he uses a new tactic to be seen, get loud and make everyone to pay attention to him. Seems like it has worked.


May 14th, 2009
4:46 pm

Dear Mr Kiffin: It would seem that you have gotten yourself backed into a corner, and Daddy will not be able to help you here. Sir this is the SEC and yes you did hire a bunch of coaches who are outstanding recruiters they’re ability to coach however remains in doubt. This includes the elder Mr Kiffin lets see how he relates to 18 and 19 yr olds, not seasoned NFL vets. In the future you may want to look into a mouth ectomy, because everytime you open yours something stupid comes out and you piss off another coach who is just circling the calendar. UT you got what you deserve and UF,Ala and So Car have coaches with long memories.


May 14th, 2009
5:12 pm

Clay Travis of NCAA Football FanHouse comments: “Whoever is in charge of Florida’s high schools should issue a statement. It should read as follows: ‘We’re happy whenever any of our students receive scholarship offers to attend college. Particularly when those offers arrive for students from comparatively disadvantaged background who have to work twice as hard to achieve their college dreams. ”

Laughable. This is the same team that has offered a scholarship to a kid whose past 4 years of “achievements” include assisting in the rape of his own cousin

The Ole Ball Coach

May 14th, 2009
5:15 pm

If Kiffin referenced my home town as he did Pahokee etc.
then Kiffin would get his rear beat like cornbread batter….
I don’t blame the fine folk of Pahokee,Florida….
Little Lame needs a lesson……….and this is the just the start..


May 14th, 2009
5:23 pm

Anyone from Bogart GA should not be calling anyone in TN hillbilly’s…last time I pulled up google maps, Bogart is GA hillbilly and red neck capitol…and to dawgfan, the only word that comes to mind is typical…any leg humper in his right mind knows UGA is not anywhere near the best team.

Obama's Teleprompter

May 14th, 2009
5:44 pm

Aww, those poor, pitiful kids from “disadvantaged” backgrounds have to work twice as hard. Give me a freaking break! Do they get extra homework? Do they go to class for 16 hours a day and the “advantaged” kids only go for 8? This clown doesn’t think that these “disadvantaged” athletes haven’t received special treatment in classes, just to keep them eligible for sports? Do the “advantaged” kids get these same benefits? This liberal nonsense has got to stop. If these kids are “disadvantaged” at all, it is because their Mom (lord knows their Dad isn’t around) has made terrible choices in life…you know, like having a bunch of kids that she can’t afford to take care of.

johnny reb

May 14th, 2009
5:54 pm

Game over Rocky Top. You might as well put Smokey down! Kiffin & Coach “O Sh$T” = disaster!


May 14th, 2009
6:22 pm

Seems like Kiffin hacks a lot of pople off withhhis insults and comes back and tries to apologize for them later…point is why would you want your kids to play for a d*** like this…before this is all over a lot of poeple are going to make TN regret their choice of coaches


May 14th, 2009
8:24 pm

Looks like in spite of his comments, the recruits are coming. Spurrier ran his mouth and did just fine while at FU. Might as well get used to the comments before you lose to us. Notice how he only beyotch slaps urby’s people? And that should tickle Dawg fans everywhere. He might rile the gators up so much that the dawgs will have a chance to win this year.


May 14th, 2009
8:30 pm

Kiff apologized several times, but the douche principal wants him to make a special trip down there, and do it at an assembly or pep rally or something. I’m UGA through and through and this only benefits our program. But some of these people are just overly sensitive, and evrything out of his mouth someone takes offense to. If I were Kiff, I would hold a special conferance, tell the principal to go F themselves, and would take back my apologies.


May 14th, 2009
10:35 pm

I don’t think it benefits georgia at all.. Tennessee offered i believe 8 guys from there, right now you are not allowed to go to the school and talk to the players so that’s fine. kiffin can still talk to the players. Georgia is losing ground in recruiting according to the AJC. :)


May 14th, 2009
10:40 pm

** And it’s hilarous to watch the UGA & UF fans comment on Tennessee, Kiffin & how he’s going to fail.. Hell he must be doing something right, got a awesome staff. got # 8 recruiting class with less than 3 months to do so, got the # 1 player in america to come to knoxville.. I don’t expect success overnight but Tennessee will be back! don’t worry! GO VOLS

Audi TT

May 15th, 2009
12:44 am

You dumbazz Tennessee fans! You have hitched your wagon to a jackass and soon you will be rolling down Losers Lane.


May 15th, 2009
5:31 am

What about the 11 kids he just run off ? is that how he plans on rebuilding !!!


May 15th, 2009
6:54 am

TN and their fans are truly becoming the Oakland Raiders of college football. Under Fulmer the school was having a problem with bad behavior players so what do they do? They fire Fulmer and as always you just blame the previous coach for players bad behavior. You hire a new coach which means you get to hit the reset button on recruiting new players with bad behavior like Hood who Fulmer had backed off on recruiting. TN is now recruiting ex-QBs Marve of Miami and Cam Newton of FL who were cast offs by their teams teams. Kiffin is using the scorched earth tactics in recruiting where he even tells Marlon Brown’s grandmother who did not want him to go to TN get out of my way I am coming through. This coach is like General Sherman the yankee general who burned Atlanta and attacked all parties on his march to the sea. He thinks a lot of us in the south are nothing more than ignorant hillbillies who he has contempt for as evidenced by his comments about no shirts, no shoes, and so dumb we will have to pump gas. Kiffin better win quickly as his enemies list grows quickly in his scorched earth method of recruiting. He better know other schools will enjoy turning him in if he is shady in recruiting. He will be judged harshly if these bad behavior players he is recruiting continue to act according to form. No doubt about it TN is becoming the Oakland Raiders leaving devastation in their path with this unruly crew of pirates.


May 15th, 2009
7:11 am

You people out there just don’t get it! Kiffin just didn’t insult Pahokee High School, he insulted the WHOLE CITY OF PAHOKEE. All the citizens of Pahokee is asking for, is for Kiffin to come to Pahokee to apologize to the citizens as a whole, not just the coach and the principal. Being a Gator fan has nothing to do with it, it’s about PRINCIPLE!!! Get it right before you post stuff on the internet. GO BLUE DEVILS!!! GO GATORS!!!!

Dawg Drool (BaseballVol13)

May 15th, 2009
9:21 am

GatorFanPahokeeAlum, if the shoe fits (if you have one)wear it! Ariel, the mermaid, has NO right to keep anyone from being on campus in Pahokee to offer a D-1 scholarship to s student/athlete. You’re dreaming if you think Kiffin is coming to Pahokee to personally address the Chamber of Commerce with an apology. The comments were tongue in cheek to VOLS boosters. FYI, Nu’keese Richardson’s family did, in FACT, request that his scholarship papers be sent to his aunt at the middle school instead of the high school so nothing gatorish would happen to them!


May 15th, 2009
9:51 am

Never have I seen bigger whiny-babies than Gator fans.