Posted: 4:53 pm Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive tells football coaches to cool down the smack talk 

By Post Staff

DESTIN – Each of the 12 Southeastern Conference head football coaches is in Destin this week for the annual SEC Spring Meetings, and commissioner Mike Slive is here to make one point crystal clear:

Cut it out.

No more sniping to the media about other coaches. No more gratuitous shots at the other programs. If you have a problem, take it to Slive, not the media.

“We’ll have some good conversations about it,” Slive said.

There’s a reason, Slive said, why the SEC adopted Bylaw 10.5.1 in 2004, which states in plain English that “coaches and administrators shall refrain from directed public criticism of other member institutions, their staffs or players.”

“In the long-term best interest of the conference, the attention ought to be on the reason we’re here: the men and women that compete,” Slive said shortly before the coaches convened for their afternoon meetings. “We unanimously passed a set of principles that we have incorporated and are in full effect. And we just expect everybody to follow our rules.”

That means you, Lane Kiffin, for wrongly accusing the Gators of cheating on the recruiting trail. That means you, Urban Meyer, for denigrating the Tennessee coaches who ripped off their shirts while with a bunch of recruits, and questioning Auburn for rolling around in a tricked-out limo. And that means you, Steve Spurrier, for calling out Kiffin for talking to recruits before he was officially introduced as Tennessee’s head coach.

“I’m still waiting for Coach Spurrier’s apology,” Kiffin joked.

Sense a common theme among all these disputes? Obviously, Kiffin has been a polarizing figure in his six months on the job. Today was the first time he met most of his competitors face-to-face, including Meyer.

Still, Meyer agreed that it’s time for everyone to start acting like adults again.

“I think it’s important for the SEC that everybody be first class,” Meyer said. “Do they have to get along? No not at all. But do they have to represent something bigger than that? Absolutely.”

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino suggested an interesting way to solve everyone’s differences.

“You know that ultimate fighting?” Petrino said. “You want to quit talking about it, they can just jump into that ring. That would sell some tickets.”

Kiffin drew by far the most media attention Tuesday, as more than two dozen reporters kept him on the podium for 33 minutes to talk about his brash style.

Kiffin said he came into the job with the plan of creating “an immediate spark” to put Tennessee back on the national map.

If that included ripping Meyer in public, or the people of Pahokee, so be it.

“Do I love everything I had to do to get us to this point? No I don’t,” Kiffin said. “But my job is not to love everything I do. My job is to do the best thing for our university and the best thing for our people.”

Kiffin did not exactly receive a warm and fuzzy welcome from the other SEC coaches Tuesday, but said everyone he met was “extremely professional.”

“I don’t think there will be any hard feelings toward anybody,” Kiffin said. “I just talked to Coach Spurrier coming out of the elevator. I think at the end of the day, everyone knows we all have specific jobs we have to do for our universities.”

Kiffin did joke that he “did ask for joining rooms with Coach Meyer.” But as far as apologizing to Meyer and Florida for his post-Signing Day comments, Kiffin said he doesn’t feel the need to apologize again.

“I hadn’t really thought about it,” he said.