Posted: 12:10 pm Thursday, February 5th, 2009
By Post Staff
Lane Kiffin was hired to turn around the Tennessee football program, not make friends in the SEC.
After three months on the job, Kiffin is doing a pretty good job in reversing the Vols’ fortunes, and an excellent job in ticking off his new foes.
Like a 21st-century Steve Spurrier, Kiffin continues to poke and prod at his new conference rivals. First it was pilfering coaches from half of the staffs in the SEC (Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and South Carolina, to name a few).
Then this morning, not 24 hours after Signing Day, Kiffin threw several jabs at Urban Meyer and Florida. Kiffin stole two recruits away from the Gators — cornerback Marsalis Teague and Pahokee receiver Nu’Keese Richardson — and chided Meyer in front of about 1,000 fans at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Kiffin even accused Meyer of cheating. Check it out in this video on VolunteerTV.
“I’m going to turn Florida in right here in front of you,” Kiffin told the crowd. “While Nu’Keese was on campus, his phone kept ringing. One of the coaches says, ‘who’s that?’ And he said, Urban Meyer.”
“Just so you know, when a recruit is on another campus, you can’t call him. I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him.”
And check out this story from the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Kiffin and top recruiter Ed Orgeron were mighty proud of running backs coach Eddie Gran for going down to Florida and stealing Richardson away at the last minute.
“One of the best players in America didn’t visit anywhere else. We hire Eddie Gran and within several days, he’s visiting us,” Orgeron said of Richardson. “You can only see where we’re going to be very powerful in the state of Florida.”
And Orgeron said the Vols took extra pleasure in stealing away two recruits from the rival Gators.
“In order to beat the national champ on the field, you have to beat the national champ in recruiting,” Orgeron said. “We beat them twice.”
Kiffin promised his fan base that “We’re just getting started. This is just a little bit of a taste … There’s already been a message sent and I think there are going to be bigger ones sent soon.”
To land the last-minute recruits, Kiffin used Tennessee basketball — for Richardson, he saw in person Tennessee’s 79-63 home victory over Florida on Saturday evening.
“Don’t think that Nu’Keese didn’t have that in his mind,” Kiffin said. “If 22,000 people can be this loud and this supportive, what do 105,000 look like?”
“And whoever painted the rock, ‘Nu’Keese for Heisman’, that helps, too.”
The Vols visit Gainesville on Sept. 19. Kiffin has seven more months to annoy Meyer and the Gators.
Photo courtesy of UTSports.com