CBS – There is very little middle ground in how the public views Kiffin, who returns this week to coach in Knoxville for the first time since he was vilified for leaving Tennessee in 2010 after 14 months.
Either you believe there’s no one better at selling himself and failing up than Kiffin. Or you believe he’s a good coach and recruiter who simply got handed the keys to the luxury cars too soon. Gray areas don’t seem to exist in conversations about Kiffin.
Each Kiffin exit tries to top the previous one, as if there are style points for soap opera-like departures. There was the power-point presentation by Al Davis as he called Kiffin a liar in Oakland. There were burning mattresses and a bizarre, late-night news conference at Tennessee. There was the airport firing and getting pulled off the team bus at USC.
Through it all, Kiffin became a magnet to a sports-media world now consumed by page views — so much so that friends and family members wonder when Kiffin will be allowed to simply coach again. Kiffin is the rare college coach who can be on the source of jokes in the mainstream media and TMZ.
Google “Lane Kiffin” last week and you would have seen a skit that went viral. Actors portray Kiffin and his wife while fielding vulgar and insulting phone calls from Alabama fans.
“Lane sent it to me on a family group text,” said Robin Kiffin, Lane’s mother. “It was awful. That language is horrible. … They never leave him alone. I don’t see them picking on anybody else like that. That guy at Texas Tech (Mike Leach), he locked a quarterback in a shed and he gets another job. Are they still talking about that? No. The Arkansas guy (Bobby Petrino) gets caught on a motorcycle wreck with another woman and he gets another job. Are they talking about him? No.”
It’s under this backdrop that Kiffin visits Knoxville for what figures to be a hostile return Saturday night. Kiffin’s three kids are staying home out of concern that the environment won’t be appropriate for them, according to Kiffin’s mother and sister. They remember how uneasy the family felt leaving Knoxville in 2010.
“I’m scared to death for his safety,” Robin Kiffin said of Saturday’s game. “Some people were visiting us last weekend from Tennessee and they said they better not let him on the sideline (where Kiffin coaches at Alabama), they should put him in the press box. I want him to be in the press box.”
First of all I don’t know what Mrs. Kiffin slipped into Jon Solomon’s brownies but let’s make one thing clear - nobody trashes Lane Kiffin for the pageviews. Dude earned everything he gets all on his own. I don’t wake up every morning and say hey I need a bunch of hits today, let’s post something about the OC of Alabama. That’s what boobs and butts are for. I don’t even need to exaggerate or embellish stories or play with headlines to make it sound better, it’s just straight up all Lane Kiffin by himself. 5-15 with Raiders and fired with cause over the phone by Al Davis who then used a Powerpoint to show how awful he was. One 7-6 season with Tennessee featuring losses to every good opponent they played ending with a blowout to VTech then bouncing immediately out the door to USC causing riots all over campus. The Urban Meyer lie, the Alshon Jeffrey fiasco. 28-15 at USC with no significant wins despite consistently having a top recruiting class before getting pulled off the team bus and literally fired at the airport. The guy has just been a terrible disloyal coach making huge mistakes everywhere he goes.
As for the mom here, hey, I’d be worried about my son going back to Neyland too. Not exactly a fan favorite around there.
Maybe just throw like to an extra 2 cops his way to ease poor Mrs. Kiffin’s mind?