Posted: 9:53 am Friday, February 6th, 2009

Lane Kiffin burning bridges in Palm Beach County 

By Post Staff

Lane Kiffin swiped away Nu’Keese Richardson away from Florida, and he better enjoy his recruiting victory, because the Tennessee coach may not be welcome in Muck City for a long time.

While Kiffin and his staff got their guy, they ruffled a lot of feathers in the process — including offending the intelligence of Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson, which maybe isn’t the best thing to do.

“You’re basically burning a bridge,” Thompson said. “You’re ostracizing a school that you may want to recruit at. That wasn’t very smart of him to do.”

In his excitement yesterday morning, Kiffin not only falsely accused Urban Meyer of cheating, but took a cheap swipe at Thompson and the people of Pahokee. He said he arranged for Richardson and his aunt to secretly fax his papers into the Tennessee office early Wednesday morning, because they didn’t trust Thompson or the people at the school.

“Someone at the school was going to screw it up. The fax machine wouldn’t work, or they would have changed the signatures, all the things that go on in Pahokee,” Kiffin said. “The aunt took it over to a junior high, found a fax machine that worked and faxed them over to us at 7:00, and I kept it in a drawer until their 1:00 press conference.”

It is baffling that Kiffin would make those statements after successfully recruiting Richardson, especially considering Thompson holds the keys to a garage full of Porsches every year. After sugar, the No. 2 crop in Pahokee is football recruits, and in the class of 2010, Pahokee will have at least five Division I recruits, including De’Joshua Johnson, a four-five star recruit who already has received an offer from Florida.

Think Thompson is going to roll out the red carpet for Kiffin and Co. next year?

Especially not after those comments. But Richardson’s recruitment was strange even before Kiffin burned his bridges.

There was the bizarre text messaging incident from last Saturday, which Jason Lieser detailed in his blog.

And Thompson said yesterday that Kiffin and coach Eddie Gran played by their own rules, and went around Thompson to get to Richardson.

“All I know is Nu’Keese tells me on a Sunday that they’re coming the following day, which was Martin Luther King Day,” Thompson said. “I said, ‘OK, that’s interesting. They haven’t called me to let me know what’s going on, but I’ll wait to hear from them.’ No word, no word. Monday comes, he meets with them. Monday goes and nothing. Not until the following Sunday did I hear from Tennessee.”

“I told Coach Gran, ‘It’s kind of weird. It’s been a week since you were down and no word. I didn’t organize this so it’s not my show, but normally it’s a courtesy to come by and talk to the head coach.’”

“Gran said, ‘Well it was a Monday and it was Martin Luther King Day and I know you weren’t there…’”

“I said, ‘Yeah, but you could’ve called.’”

“It was offensive to me that they didn’t show the courtesy of calling. The recruiting aspect of it, as long as they’re not breaking rules and bashing somebody, I don’t have anything to say to them. But they damn sure should come through and say, ‘Hey I’m Coach Gran. I’m recruiting your player.’”