published Friday, May 1st, 2009

Hargis: Sands says Kiffin better fit at college level than in NFL

One of the good things about being 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds is that you don’t have to tiptoe around questions. So when former Howard star and current Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Terdell Sands is asked to speak his mind on any subject, he doesn’t worry about being politically correct or whose feelings he’s going to hurt.

In fact, only one thing scares Sands.

“The Black Hole,” Sands joked, referring to the infamous section of rowdy fans at Oakland. “Those people are no joke. They’re true Raiders fans. I’ve seen some of the worst fights ever up there just because somebody showed up in another team’s colors. They stick together and they’ll whip anybody’s butt.”

Sands has been in Chattanooga this week to spend time with his 13-year-old son Cordell and friends before flying back to Oakland on Monday to prepare for preseason workouts. He will return for his third annual youth football camp, which will be held at McCallie on June 13.

The hardships Sands has overcome to reach the NFL prompt him to help the city’s youth, and they add to his confidence in speaking his mind.

After an all-state senior season at Howard, he signed with the University of Tennessee but failed to qualify academically. He spent the next two years taking classes at Chattanooga State and UT-Chattanooga before being allowed to join the Mocs on the field. After a solid freshman season he was ruled academically ineligible, dropped out and spent another year away from the game.

But after a tryout at an NFL pro day at UTC, Sands was taken by Kansas City in the seventh round of the 2001 draft. He spent a season with the NFL Europe’s Berlin Thunder, was on Green Bay’s practice roster for a season and made Oakland’s roster in 2003.

Sands has a unique perspective on new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, who coached the Raiders in 2007 and was fired four games into the 2008 season, having compiled a 5-15 overall record.

“I think he’ll do a good job at Tennessee because his personality will fit better at that level,” Sands said. “You can’t cuss and fuss at grown men and persuade them to do things the way you can a college kid. But he’ll be a good recruiter of young players because he’s a good salesman.

“I just don’t think he needs to be an NFL coach. I didn’t care for him too much because he came in with the attitude that he was a top dog even though he hadn’t earned any stripes yet.”

Sands added that he had great interest in the split between former McCallie quarterback B.J. Coleman and UT.

“I haven’t reached out to B.J. yet, but when I get a chance I’ll tell him to keep his head up, and if he’s doing what he feels the Lord is leading him to do, everything will be OK,” Sands said. “I’ve heard some talk about him coming back to UTC and there’s nothing wrong with coming home and doing your thing. As good as he is, he can get noticed here just as easy.

“I’m not surprised Tennessee has had so many guys leave or kicked out at UT since Kiffin came in. That’s just the way that man operates, and it will continue until he gets all his own players in there. And I’ll say this, once he’s made his mind up about something, nobody is going to change it.”

Sands had an even harsher tone for James Cregg, who joined Kiffin’s staff in December, leaving the Raiders midway through their season.

“That man is a clown,” Sands said. “He gets no respect because he quit on us in the middle of the season. He jumped ship. Maybe some of his guys liked him when he helped with the offensive line, but I’ve got no use for anybody that quits like that.”

Sands’ nine-year NFL experience includes playing in 60 games and starting in 14. Last year he had 29 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. He admits, however, that he has been frustrated because the team hasn’t won more than five games in any of his previous years.

He added that although a lot of people back home have made a fuss over the four-year, $17 million contract he signed before the 2007 season, he has maintained perspective by the fact that the day after that signing, his mother died after a lengthy battle with cancer.

“Every day after that I’ve felt blessed and thankful for the road I’ve taken and the people who believed in me all along,” Sands said. “I can take care of my family now, but I know nothing comes easy. I appreciate it more, but there’s still work to do because I want to be a better player than I’ve shown so far.”

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 23 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including nine in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation at the Associated ...

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signalmtnman said...

Good piece. Interesting perspective from Sands.

May 1, 2009 at 10:07 a.m.
NERAIDER said...


Why don't you concentrate on stopping the run. Oh, and don't punch Shane. Pick on somebody your own size.

May 1, 2009 at 4:24 p.m.
SpecialEd said...

It's hard to take seriously any comments from a man named Terd ell. What was his mother thinking when she hung that moniker on her poor offspring? At least he had the good sense not to name his son Terdell Junior. In spite of Turdell's tremendous height and girth, Kiffin's the bigger man if only for the fact that he doesn't disparage former acquaintances in the press. Go Vols!

May 2, 2009 at 11:57 a.m.
SpecialEd said...

Just because Turdell still carries a grudge over not being good enough to make it with the Vols is no reason to give the disgruntled moke a venue to now take pot shots at the new UT regime. That's nothing but sour grapes. Turdell should be a bigger man than that if he has any sense of decency at all.

May 2, 2009 at 12:10 p.m.
SouthTexasVol said...

More trash coming out of Chattanooga, seriously quit whining about your boys who couldn't make it in Knoxville.

May 2, 2009 at 4:55 p.m.
FLVOL said...

Looks like the chat times free press is trying to get people to turn on our new coach by trying to dig up any dirt they can find because their mad about cry baby colemans treatment. And anybody who watches pro football knows that the raiders go through coaches like babies go through diapers because al davis doesn't let his coaches coach their team their way, big al wants to call all the shots, He fired mike shanahan who went on to win super bowles and whipped the raiders all most every time he coached against them. So don't judge clk on what happened in oakland.Thank god he wouldn't be al davis's puppet and now will coach the vols back to greatness.

May 2, 2009 at 4:57 p.m.
turner_c said...

Terdell think Cregg is a quitter but not Coleman? I am the only one that sees irony there? Keep trying TFP, keep trying.

May 2, 2009 at 5:50 p.m.
utvolalum said...

BJ Coleman quits on his players and coaching staff at Tennessee, but Terdell Sans wants to reach out to him and tell him to keep his head up?

Coach James Cregg quits coaching at Oakland for a better opportunity at Tennessee, but he is a "clown" ?

Good try, great article Stephen, hahahaha.

May 2, 2009 at 8:13 p.m.
dogfacesoldier said...

Up until Coleman quit TFP wrote nothing but good articles about Kiffin and his staff but now they are trying to dig up everything they can on him. I dont even want to get started on Turdell , heres a guy that didnt have the smarts to stay in school then make a stupid comment about Gregg be a clown for quitting and it was ok for Coleman to quit.Coleman made the choice that he made and its all on him.Turdell he is just lucky to have a a job. TFP , you are as big as a joke as the so called sports editors at govols.

May 2, 2009 at 10:17 p.m.
WhitePineVol said...

Wonder what he'll say about Al Davis if he moves on to another team in the future?

May 3, 2009 at 8:37 a.m.
RockyTop55 said...

Wow! Another negative article about Lane and UT. You guys just cant get over the fact that BJ could not cut it at UT. BJ QUIT the team! He was not cut by Kiffin. There was a reason he was 2nd string under two completely different coaching staffs. It is time for CTFP to get over this support UT and Lane.If you cant support UT then you need to move to Florida and write this garbage.

May 3, 2009 at 9:02 a.m.
gtown1_sj said...

I know you Vols think you got a good coach, but I am a lifelong Raiders fan and Lame Kiffin will be out of Tenessee in 3 years. He's NOT a good coach. He's not even average. Terdell is NOT playing great, but he's right about all he said. I am SO glad LAME Kiffin is in Tenessee, so maybe you can give hima good A$$ Kicking out of there when he has 3 straight loosing seasons. For opposing defenses here is how you game plan against Lame Kiffin.

Ist down - run 2nd down - pass 3rd down - play-action pass turned into wide-reciever screen.. 4th down - punt

Repeat for rest of the game..


May 5, 2009 at 5:57 p.m.
belayvol said...

Here you go Wes. Hot story about TN. coaches being kicked out of Pahokee High by the principal who is a gator Alum. See his lovely gator link at the bottom of the page. Now you know why Coach K. said faxes disappear from that schools.

May 9, 2009 at 10:02 a.m.
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