published Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Greeson: Kiffin is on record pace in violations

In six months on the job with the University of Tennessee, football coach Lane Kiffin is headed for at least his fifth NCAA violation.

After talking with alleged recruits in front of ESPN’s cameras for a feature of “Outside the Lines” that was shown over the weekend, Kiffin almost has completed the news-media pentathlon. He’s encountered NCAA speed bumps on television, radio, Twitter and the Internet.

UT spokesperson Tiffany Carpenter said the university is looking into this weekend’s mis-Kiffin, but it appears to be the most obvious — and possibly most blatant — of the bunch. According to NCAA rules, “A member institution shall not permit a media entity to be present during any recruiting contact made by an institution’s coaching staff member.”

In answer to his critics, Kiffin more times than not shrugs his shoulders — his smirk and his indifference speaking volumes.

His boss, Volunteers athletic director Mike Hamilton, dismisses the growing file of secondary violations by saying it’s not an unusually high number for major college programs.

In fact, Kiffin routinely says a lot of his antics — primarily the feather-ruffling of rival coaches around the SEC that makes opposing fans cringe and Vols supporters grin — are done intentionally to raise UT’s profile around the country and in the eyes of prospective recruits.

One of his previous NCAA mistakes was mentioning then-five-star recruit and now Vols signee Bryce Brown by name, violating one of the most basic and most recognized NCAA rules. Even sportswriters know that one, never mind college coaches who claim to have scored a 39 out of 40 on the NCAA rules test, as Kiffin did. But if Brown turns into the next Adrian Peterson or Darren McFadden, it will viewed as a coup rather than culpa.

In truth, this weekend’s hiccup more than likely will be reviewed by UT and excused by the NCAA like almost always is done with secondary violations that are self-reported by college football’s power programs.

Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but few make them this quickly and this cavalierly.

Five self-reported violations in six months — including a few weeks of NCAA mandated dead-period time? Sure, if it leads to five five-star prospects like Brown picking the Vols, the Orange Army will say it was well worth a slap on the wrist to be able to punch people in the mouth.

But tread carefully, young Coach Kiffin. Whether from confidence or arrogance or even ignorance, spitting into the wind can be dodged only for a fixed amount of time.

How much longer will the NCAA allow minor violations to stack up — especially when Kiffin’s primary deflector shield has been to say it’s part of the master plan for getting people talking about the Vols again. Yes, Kiffin and Co. were on the front page of the USA Today sports section within the last month — not bad for a team coming off a five-win, bowlless season. But let the NCAA transgressions continue to mount — never mind the flaunting and posturing — and the NCAA penalties could get the Vols on the front page for the wrong reasons.

It has become a common debate whether Kiffin is simply immature or simply making a push to reshape the Vols.

It’s way too early to tell whether these are a series of minor mistakes or the sour steps of a major mistake-filled master plan. And in the end, five or six or a dozen secondary violations will not shape Kiffin’s place in Vols history.

No, regardless of the color of your car flag or whether you want the Lane Train to roll or crash, everyone agrees on one fact about the Vols new coach. His fate — like that of every other college football coach — will be determined on Saturdays in the fall.

If five secondary violations become five five-star recruits, then Vols fans will embrace Kiffin’s approach like no other.

If five five-star recruits become a few five-win seasons, well, the NCAA and Urban Meyer and the rest of the SEC won’t have to stomach Kiffin very long.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
bulldog81 said...

A look at the NCAA rules regarding Secondary Infractions might wipe the grins off the faces of Tennessee's base fans. (Link Below) Not all secondary violations are alike. Self-reported secondary violations are to be forgiven only when they are "isolated and inadvertent."
But repeated violations of the same rule by the same staff in the same year are more serious. Such repeat offenses can raise a Secondary Level II violation to a Secondary Level I violation. Add to that Mr Hamilton's indulgence of Mr Kiffin's defiant attitude, and Tennessee is drifting ever closer to "institutional control" issues and major sanctions.

It's time for Mike Hamilton to wipe the grin off of his face and re-affirm Tennessee's commitment to NCAA compliance in terms that the NCAA will appreciate and that Lane Kiffin can understand. Forfeit a scholarship or two and tell the coach that if he ever publicizes the name of a recruit again, or ever breaks the same rule twice in one year,he will be dismissed.

Link to NCAA, Secondary Infractions:

June 9, 2009 at 1:55 a.m.
TennesseeTuxedo said...

Before you guys start casting stones...oops too late....

Check Ohio State's record of secondary recruiting violations since 2001.

Ohio State's football program has committed almost 400 secondary infractions in the past 9 years

Care to delve into them before you continue your pelting of Lane Kiffin?

June 9, 2009 at 8:29 a.m.
Jimagator said...

The press in Chattanooga has consistently been negative in tone towards UT football for as long as I can remember. Our geographical position about equidistant from Tuscaloosa, Athens, and Knoxville is the likely reason. I am personally sick of their attitude but then I am a UT Knoxville graduate.

June 9, 2009 at 8:53 a.m.
signalmtnman said...

Is he really on record pace or does that just make a catchy headline? Where in this column is there any comparison to the number of violations at other schools during the same period? How about compared to other new coaches? I know of at least four other SEC schools that have multiple secondary violations during the past year, but there is no mention of them, which makes me think that Kiffin's plan must be working. I love when the media complains about how Kiffin is working the system, yet can't resist the idea to write big pieces about him.

June 9, 2009 at 9:07 a.m.
volroadwarrior said...

I believe signalmtnman got it exactly right. Show me a comparison of secondary violations of other SEC schools if you want to be credible. Greeson is either a headline grabbing nitwit or a homer for UT rivals. He could be among the gaggle of sycophants who are politically correct and go with the rest of the herd. It seems to be rampant among "reporters" these days. I challenge Greeson to "show me the beef" with comparisons to rivals' violations to see if his story is really objective. I won't hold my breath.

June 9, 2009 at 12:48 p.m.
volroadwarrior said...

Hey Greeson. Check out this link: Why don't you report on these infractions?

June 9, 2009 at 6:13 p.m.
dtsDadof6 said...

Vol fans are truly delusional. Go to VolChat at and 85% of them are drunk on the orange koolaid. To them, this immature, not-ready-for-primetime boyscout of a coach can do no wrong. And if anyone dares to question some of his antics, they are summarily quashed as disloyal traitors to the orange nation.

Hamilton made a big mistake hiring this guy. Perhaps somebody should have actually contacted Al Davis instead of dismissing his input. The Big Orange is heading down a road the end of which contains a painful lesson. Which is:

Marquis personalities are okay to pursue, but you better make sure that you're dealing with a mature person with both a bona fide track record of success and stellar personal character as well.

Unfortunately, it appears Kiffen had neither.

June 9, 2009 at 8:12 p.m.
Jimagator said...

To speak of Kiffen in the past tense is ridiculous. Any new coach in the SEC ought to have at least 3-4 years to prove himself. I personally expect Kiffen to have about as much impact on UT football as Alabama's or Florida's new premiere coaches had. Yes, I expect Kiffen to WIN and that is what you bellyachers are worried about. I remember how Sabin made an absolute fool out of Fulmer his first year at Alabama. TIME will tell if Kiffen can turn the tables on them!

June 9, 2009 at 10:01 p.m.
signalmtnman said...

I for one am not drunk on the Kool-Aid and I think Kiffin's record should be judged on the field. This column isn't doing this and it's perfectly fair to question the facts involved. The argument that if you can't question Kiffin's "antics" goes both ways as far as being able to question the hyped up media frenzy around everything he does. Read the link posted above about Georgia reporting 3 violations in a single day - is that a record???? Alumni giving pro tickets to recruits is far worse than anything Kiffin has done. How about Bama and the textbook scandal - that's rampant throughout multiple athletic programs for the Tide so don't go of on Kiffin without maintaining some balance.

If he blows it on the field through a few years I will be right there rooting for the Vols but ready to make a coaching change, same as I was this past year.

And the statement that anyone should listen to Al Davis to gauge any useful, truthful information is ridiculous. As lacking as Kiffin may be in his experience, Davis has gone above and beyond to prove that he is worthless as an owner, leader, talent scout, decent human being, etc., etc.

June 9, 2009 at 10:10 p.m.
belayvol said...

Wow! we are really racking them up. Georgia just reported 6 violations in one day. 3 of them in football. Is that a record? Or how about this list of violations?

June 10, 2009 at 1:16 a.m.
BlobKesling said...

Excellent Reporting as usual (insert sarcasm here). Is this another Mike Griffith pen name? Even though Mark Richt has been a head coach since 2001, he (or his football program) had 17 secondary violations last year - when is David going to write that article? Or how about an article on Alabama's latest NCAA investigation on textbook fraud - or perhaps Weidmer can wax eloquent on the benefits of such a fine individual as John Calipari, now that he is at UK.

June 10, 2009 at 9:41 a.m.
Gerry_DiNardo said...

I realize that you do not pick your own headlines, Mr. Greeson, but this one is EXPLICITLY MISLEADING. For your editor to describe the occurrences of secondary violations as "on a record pace" is not only blatantly false, but indeed irresponsible. The CTFP staff would have to do very little in the way of actual research (of a kind other than poaching and assuming stories from's college football front page) to realize that Kiffin's string of violations is hardly at a record pace.

In '05-'06, the Oklahoma Sooners reported 46 secondary violations. As we know, Kiffin began his tenure December, and by my quick math that figures to be an average (how one might actually measure "pace") of less than one violation per month. Obviously, at this so-called "record pace," Kiffin would have to continue at such a pace for another 40 months. That means Kiffin would be in his 4th season at the helm by the time he equaled the '05-'06 effort by Bob Stoops & Co.

While I realize it is a slow time of the year for sports journalists and editors covering college football, one would hope this would not lead to a pattern of immature and irresponsible behavior on the part of the Times Free Press staff. This seems ESPECIALLY discouraging considering the chief aim of the article was to highlight the irresponsible behavior of another. As such, we can add "hypocritical" to the growing list of adjectives appropriately describing this effort by Mr. Greeson & friends.

Here's an idea for a story: Instead of writing carbon copy articles that are obviously a result of haphazard perusal of Chris Low's SEC blog and, why don't you try doing something refreshing and new? Why don't you take these stories about Kiffin's secondary violation (that have been EVERYWHERE, mind you, and already beaten into the ground) and see how the ACTUALLY stack up against other programs in the conference? Perhaps the country? Is original thought discouraged by your editors or were you simply pressed for deadline?

I'm not saying the TFP needs to jump up and down defense of Kiffin. Just be honest in your reporting. If, through research, you discovered this was actually a "record pace" then provide evidence to such a claim. With such a headline as employed above, given the circumstances, it is obvious that you have reneged on your responsibility as a news source to report HONESTLY. After you do that, nothing else you produce matters much.

June 10, 2009 at 9:46 a.m.
volroadwarrior said...

Greeson is like all reporters. They are lazy and like to jump on bandwagons. The truth and context do not matter. I would wager that the number and severity of Kiffin's secondary violations are in the normal range. Until someone shows me the facts, I won't believe anything Greeson writes. A national poll shows that reporters are viewed unfavorably in the same range as lawyers and Congress. This article is a good reason they are seen as bottom feeders.

June 10, 2009 at 11:08 a.m.
whttiger1129 said...

I swear the media has a crush on UT. The only thing that can't be stomach is this article! Why don't you write something worth writing??? If you think UT is the only one who has secondary violation then you are clueless! Try doing some research.

June 10, 2009 at 11:44 a.m.
dbc5361 said...

This IS a prominent news story!! Find another Division 1 coach that has as many Recruiting Violations in the past 6 months as Kiffin. Then, think about the fact Kiffin was able to get the #1 recruit, has ZERO NCAA wins and got fired from his previous job. Also, TennesseeTuxedos post is the biggest pile of hot garbage ever spewed. Is he 12?

June 10, 2009 at 1:53 p.m.
cleVOLand said...

The premise of this article is wrong. What a shameless rag this paper is. Chattanooga, you may consider yourself Atlanta junior, but you are more like Stevenson senior.

By the way, here is the link for the OSU violation numbers mentioned above, in case anyone is interested in facts, which, obviously, this idiot writer and newspaper are not:



June 10, 2009 at 8:11 p.m.
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