He seems to be on a mission to piss off everyone in the SEC, which ... well, when you're going up against Urban Meyer, probably isn't a good idea.
In case you haven't heard about Kiffin's slightly overboard pep talk at a Tennessee function Thursday morning, this is what went down:
Earlier in the day, Kiffin told fans at a breakfast celebrating UT’s recruiting class that Meyer violated rules by phoning Nu’Keese Richardson while the wide receiver prospect was on an official visit at Tennessee.It's one thing to talk a little trash -- gamesmanship and all that -- but it's another to accuse a peer of cheating, especially when you're not even right.
“I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him,” Kiffin said, according to a WVLT-TV report.
Florida, of course, made sure to point this out in a statement:
“It is obvious that coach Kiffin doesn’t know that there is not a rule precluding phone contact with a prospect during an official visit on another campus during a contact period,” Florida athletic director Foley said in a statement.So you think Florida will let up when it's leading by four touchdowns on Sept. 19 at The Swamp? Yikes ...
“His allegations are inappropriate, out of line and, most importantly, totally false. It is completely unfair to Urban Meyer, our coaching staff, our football program and our institution,” he said.
The worst part for Kiffin, though, isn't the response from Florida; it's the SEC commissioner jumping in and basically calling Kiffin an idiot.
"We expect our coaches to have an understanding and knowledge of conference and NCAA rules," read Slive's statement.Kiffin issued a non-apology apology in an attempt to cool things down, saying that "my comments were not intended to offend anyone at the University of Florida.”
I'm sure that makes them feel better. I'd like to think that a head coach with Kiffin's bravado would be enough of a man to stand up for himself and apologize when he makes an egregious error, but apparently not.
Kiffin's digging himself a hole here, as pointed out by Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN in a fairly critical article. Everyone knows how tough it is to win in the SEC, and when you've made yourself a whole list of enemies in your first two months on the job, it doesn't get any easier. Also, the conference commissioner is usually somebody you'd prefer NOT to upset.
Steve Spurrier was never a popular figure either when he was a Florida, but there's one big difference: Spurrier won a whole bunch of games and established himself as an outstanding coach before pissing people off, while Kiffin has done absolutely nothing. If Tennessee struggles early on in Kiffin's tenure, he probably won't be given the same benefits as someone who actually gets along with people and doesn't publicly embarrass the university.
With all the attention Kiffin has brought on Tennessee -- from the assistant coach shopping spree to Spurrier's complaints about his recruiting tactics to this "misunderstanding" -- any grace period he might have had is over.