Lane Kiffin, Confusing Concern for Compliments

I wonder if Lane Kiffin actually hears what he is saying, and, if he does, what he thinks of what he says. Certainly, this delight in NCAA attention would be something he might regret, no?

⇥"I think when it comes to recruiting, we're at the highest level, and I think that people really want to know what we're doing," Kiffin said after practice Saturday. "They want to know how are we able to get interest from so many great players, and sign so many great players, so I think you have a lot of people coming at us."

The problem with that assumption, Lane, is that the people who want to know what Tennessee is doing not just the purportedly jealous coaches you seem to be targeting in that quote. The NCAA officials who, according to two reports by the New York Times and another by Sports Illustrated, are looking into the school's recruiting procedures, might be interested in knowing whether your staff is violating NCAA rules.

The worst part of this investigation, for Tennessee, is that the average reader could come up with the proper conclusion in minutes: You are.

As Andy Staples notes, having hostesses at a high school game violates the letter of a rule, and is a secondary violation. As other sources have noted, you have committed them on camera. As the SEC noted this spring, you have only a fuzzy understanding of what the rules governing recruiting even are.

Further investigation is not a compliment, Lane, but a threat to do more than crimp the outlaw style you revel in.

The most damning part of the NYT's Friday piece is probably the impression Tennessee's hostesses have left on a "veteran" basketball coach.

⇥Also on Friday, Keith Easterwood, a veteran summer basketball coach, said that on a visit last year with his son, a football recruit, he had to ask a hostess to stop brushing her breasts against both him and his son.⇥⇥

⇥He recalled saying, “Young lady, if you don’t stop doing that, we’ve got a problem.”⇥⇥

⇥

⇥Easterwood said that he took a group of basketball players to a Western Kentucky football game at Tennessee this year, and that the presence of the hostesses had his players “literally reduced to blubbering idiots.”⇥⇥

⇥

⇥“I’ve been up there five times, four for football and one basketball visit,” Easterwood said. “My observation is that this is a very organized operation. These girls have obviously been groomed. There’s a lot of eye contact and touching.”⇥⇥

If a man who spends more time than most with recruiters is throwing those daggers Tennessee's way, it's not good. If a Sports Illustrated reporter can produce photographic evidence of hostesses committing a violation, it's not good. And any extended examination of Steven Rubio, whose Twitter presence reveals him to be loquacious at the least, is probably not good.

And, generally, racking up recruiting violations is not a good thing, Lane. While one or two self-reported secondary violations is a minor problem every school has, and you have leveraged your misdeeds into massive amounts of publicity, the carelessness of the violations Tennessee has accrued since you took over on Rocky Top is staggering. The flippant attitude towards all involved is not going to improve matters, either, mostly because the endgame here isn't about getting a few good players to commit.

It's about whether your brash brand of recruiting is ultimately going to build or break your program.

And if you can't read the genuine concern mixed with the inferred compliment there, from a Florida fan who has no great love for Tennessee, you may want to start trying to comprehend emotions more complex than imagined jealousy.

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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