Kiffin must enjoy putting his foot in his mouth

Published 12:18 am Sunday, February 8, 2009

I’ve got two questions for Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.

The first is pretty simple. Really? The second is pretty similar. Really?

For those of you that have been living under a rock — or recovering from a celebratory drinking binge — since National Signing Day, here’s what you’ve missed. It seems that there’s a chance Kiffin may have hired Trent Lott’s speechwriter on Wednesday, and has relied on his guidance since.

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He just keeps churning out one verbal faux pas after another in hopes of exciting the “Vol nation.” Let’s review, shall we?

On Wednesday, he giddily proclaimed to a roomful of Tennessee fans that Florida coach Urban Meyer committed a recruiting violation by calling Florida commit-turned Vol signee Nu’keese Richardson while he was on an official visit to Tennessee.

Trouble is, Kiffin did not realize that Meyer’s actions did not constitute a violation. He was reprimanded by the SEC for his comments, which went against the conference’s policy of refraining from publicly speaking ill of conference coaches and officials.

But at least he got his punch line in. “I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him,” he said to a roar of laughter.

Kiffin’s story gets better though. Much better. You see, Florida is not the only school he has called out. Kiffin also had a bone to pick with Pahokee Middle/High School, the school that produced Richardson.

He told 1,000 people at the Knoxville Convention Center a story regarding the faxing of Richardson’s letter of intent. The following is what he had to say, verbatim, about a school that produced a player that will play with the Vols.

“They didn’t go do it at the school because they knew somebody at the school was going to screw it up. The fax machine wouldn’t work, or they would have changed the signatures, all the things that go on in Pahokee now.”

Give me a minute, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how he could think it a good idea to burn that bridge . . . just another minute . . . nope, I still don’t have it. In fact, I’m speechless.

But, Kiffin is not the type to quit while he’s ahead. On second thought, a better way to put that might be while he still has a chance to make up 10 miles in a marathon. Kiffin also called out the very class he signed.

On Wednesday, most coaches — regardless of who is signed — can not wait to tell gathered masses how excited they are about the players they got or how many difference makers they brought in. Is it always true? Of course not, but as a head coach, that is what you’re supposed to do.

And what approach did Kiffin take? Well, once again, here’s a Kiffin gem, verbatim. Honestly, I couldn’t make this up.

“Understand, this class is far below the standards we have here and what will be here in the future . . . What I can tell to all our fans and the whole state is we’re just getting started. This is a little taste.”

I’m not trying to say former Ole Miss head coach — and current Tennessee assistant — Ed Orgeron is a world-beater when it comes to the spoken word. But, even he knew better than to say anything like that when he was a head coach. Well, that or nobody understood his thick, Cajun accent if he did say it.

Time will tell the tale, but methinks Kiffin is in way, way over his head. The former Oakland Raiders coach will catch heat when the Vols visit Florida this year. He will probably be banned from recruiting a few high schools in Florida as well. He has provided plenty of fodder to make his job much more difficult.

But, even in the midst of those truths, it still has to beat working for Al Davis.