Coaches can say the darndest things sometimes
by Marty Mule’
Tiger Rag Featured Columnist
(At left, clockwise from top left) Lane Kiffin, Urban Meyer, Nick Saban and Les Miles have all their day. (Graphic by Matt Deville)
That’s what anyone would think is the name of the new University of Tennessee coach if you’ve tuned into national talk shows the last week or so, not to mention local outlets.
That’s when bratty Lane Kiffin publicly uttered his impolitic remarks, to a fired-up Volunteer audience at a breakfast, that he was turning in Florida’s Urban Meyer for a recruiting offense – which turned out not to be an offense.
There must be a good reason why Kiffin strongly resembles Dennis the Menace.
As it turned out, it was the 33-year-old Kiffin, who has yet to coach a college team to a single first down, much less a victory, who got his hand slapped – by the SEC, who basically sent a message for Kiffin to let his thoughts formulate in his brain before moving his lips.
But, let’s be honest. Kiffin is just the latest of in a new breed of SEC coaches, which includes Meyer, with big mouths, who speak before thinking, making inappropriate and classless utterances that cause dust-ups.
It really started in the 1990s when snippy Florida coach Steve Spurrier began taking snide shots at whoever the Gators were playing, but most against his home-state school of Tennessee.
“You can’t spell ‘Citrus’ without UT,” Spurrier once quipped about the secondary bowl Tennessee spent a lot holiday seasons in while Florida went to the more prestigious venues.
In Louisiana, we don’t have to go any further than LSU’s Les Miles, when asked about whether Alabama’s new coach would add fuel to the rivalry, bellowed, “Ala-BLANKING-Bama’’ also to an audience of fans.
That was out of character for Miles, but it was every bit an air-headed moment as Kiffin’s.
Alabama’s Nick Saban, who has a string of ill-advised statements I’m sure he’d like to call back, was never worse than when he insulted the Cajuns whose kids he recruited in five years at LSU, and who paid his considerable salary, when he went on a soliloquy in what he thought was a private setting about “coonasses.’’
What was especially insulting about the term, one of those that within the group is used all the time without hurt feelings, is that it came from Saban. After LSU beat Saban’s Michigan State Spartans in 1995, it was he who castigated LSU players because he heard the N-word directed to each other on the field. That word, as insulting as it is, is used often in the African-American community, often as a term of endearment or friendship.
Meyer himself comes across as disingenuous and dishonest, and may deserve even more than Kiffin to be publicly embarrassed.
In the book Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting, author Bruce Feldman recounts Meyer’s efforts to grab quarterback Jevan Snead.
According to Feldman, Snead committed to Florida after Urban Meyer told him they weren’t going to be recruiting any other quarterbacks.
Then later that fall, Snead clicked on ESPN’s Outside the Lines and caught a segment of Tim Tebow, a touted quarterback from Florida . . . but when the cameras panned up into the crowd at Tebow’s game they focused on Meyer and his offensive coordinator, Dan Mullen, Snead was stunned.
Snead called Meyer the next day and asked about Tebow. “Oh, don’t worry about that,’’ Meyer assured Snead. “We’re only recruiting him as a linebacker.’’
Snead wanted to believe him because he wanted to go to Florida, but at that point his high school coach interceded. “We may have been born at night,,’’ Chad Morris said later, ‘’but it wasn’t last night.’’
Think that 31-30 victory by Ole Miss over Florida last season, engineered by Snead, meant something?
What Kiffin said was just ignorant. What Meyer did was dastardly.
And they are not alone.
Marty Mule’ can be reached at MJM981two@Charter.net.