Published February 26, 2011 - 7:04am
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He will never have a bronze statue of his likeness adorning the entrance at Neyland Stadium.
His name will never by emboldened on a street sign on the Tennessee campus.
He will never again be cheered by 100,000 adoring fans as he runs through the “T” as game time approaches at Shields-Watkins Field.
We don’t have hurricanes in East Tennessee, so much for damaging a storm’s reputation, although Lane Kiffin’s reign of 408 days as head coach of the Vols has left a trail of destruction unlike any that had come before him. Damage estimates continue to be reassessed, while the final toll may not be known for several years.
But let us never forget the dark days and nights left behind by the disgraced former coach and as history shows, if we forget, we are doomed to repeat. In this light, I would like to suggest that Kiffin’s name be added to each and every dark cloud that forever passes over the Tennessee campus.
So how does one earn such a deserving accolade? Let’s take a look back before we examine the present.
Tennessee A.D. Mike Hamilton hired Kiffin on December 1, 2008. It didn’t take the new coach of the Volunteers long to begin making waves, by first assembling a staff that included fellow henchman Ed Orgeron and brother-in-law David Reaves.
Kiffin’s brashness came to a head at a National Signing Day event when he accused Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer of cheating in the recruitment of Tennessee signee Nu’Keese Richardson. Kiffin was later reprimanded by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive for violating SEC conduct rules with his comments and ultimately issued an apology to Meyer, Florida A.D. Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida.
Kiffin’s assault on fellow SEC coaches continued with jabs at South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier as well as Alabama’s Nick Saban, thus painting a bright Big Orange target on the University of Tennessee.
The reign of terror continued with the now infamous hostess-gate incident, where two UT hostesses drove to South Carolina for a high-school game involving Corey Miller, Brandon Willis and Marcus Lattimore. All three were players that Kiffin was recruiting. Kiffin also reportedly told Alshon Jeffery that if he went to South Carolina, his future would be pumping gas.
The Kiffin era came to a screeching halt on January 12, 2010 when he abruptly accepted the head coaching position at Southern California, replacing Pete Carroll.
Tennessee hired Derek Dooley as their new head man, left to pick up all the broken pieces of debris left behind by Kiffin and company.
Among the damage left behind is Kiffin’s “stellar” recruiting class of 2009. Of the eight 4 or 5 star recruits in the class, Marsalis Teague and Eric Gordon are the only two left on the current roster.
Since Kiffin’s departure, the Vols have seen the additional departures of Bryce Brown, Jerod Askew, David Oku, Darren Myles and most recently the voluntary withdrawal of All-SEC safety, Janzen Jackson. Not to mention Nu’Keese Richardson, who was dismissed under Kiffin in an armed robbery incident.
All this in the past, now to the present.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011, Tennessee finally received their long awaited letter in the mail from the NCAA.
The 26 page Notice of Allegations, primarily focused on basketball recruiting violations, calls into question football recruiting violations levied against Kiffin and his assistants.
Among the allegations are charges of impermissible telephone contact, impermissible off-campus contacts with high-school administrators and most damning of all, a failure by Kiffin to promote an atmosphere of compliance and a failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant football coaches and an administrator involved with the football program who reported directly or indirectly to Kiffin. In other simpler terms, Kiffin and his staff were running wild and out of control while at Tennessee.
It would appear that Kiffin is least as big of a target of the NCAA as Tennessee, if not more. Vol fans can only hope and wait that the perpetrator will in turn garner the wrath and the brunt of the blow from the NCAA.
Tennessee has 90 days to respond to the Letter of Allegations and has a date with the NCAA in Indianapolis, IN set for June 10-11, 2011.
Brighter days are ahead for the Vols, but as I look to the sky on this dark wintry day in East Tennessee, I see the dark clouds and can’t help but think of Lane Kiffin.