published Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Hargis: Be glad, let Kiffin move on

I'm officially over all things Lane Kiffin. I swear I haven't been this sick of a story since Jon and Kate.

Besides being a lot of brash talk and a tireless recruiter, there is way too much attention being given to a guy with nine more losses than he has wins as a head coach.

It's been a little over a week since Kiffin, his father and his hired-gun ace recruiter bolted for the Left Coast, but there remains a constant flow of animosity, rumors and actual news updates. Forget a woman scorned: The bitter grudge being carried by much of Vol Nation means there apparently is no fury like an orange fan base left red-faced.

Let the university investigate whether NCAA rules were violated when Ed Orgeron contacted early enrollees. If rules were broken and it warrants more than those secondary violations Kiffin is so fond of collecting, then add that onto the punishment Southern California has coming from the NCAA's current investigation.

Incidentally, as long as Orgeron is in the room, he makes Kiffin seem like John Wooden when it comes to ethics.

Let TMZ chase rumors of who was in the car with Kiffin and what the circumstances were surrounding his accident last August. And if there is more to the story, be thankful that he is now USC's problem.

For everyone who wears a Big Orange shirt or hat or flies an orange "T" flag from the car window, borrow a motto the university used so often in ads last fall by simply saying, "It's Time."

It's time to stop creating "I hate Lane Kiffin" Facebook pages. It's time to stop wasting your free time blogging about or e-mailing USC fans' Web sites to blast their new coach.

And it's especially time to stop filing paperwork to rename a sewage treatment plant after Kid Smirk. That's just what Knoxville attorney Drew McElroy did earlier this week, paying the $262 application fee to a City Council Clerk in hopes of renaming a Knoxville wastewater treatment plant the "Lane Kiffin Sewage Center."

Although it might be the most creative way to remember the coach who flushed an entire program's hopes down the toilet, personally I'm hoping the most lasting memory of Kiffin's short stay in Knoxville will be that he opened the door for a coach who cared more about building UT's program back into contention than building his personal resume for another job.

And for goodness' sake, let's hope Derek Dooley does so with the class that's been missing for 14 months and an appreciation for the traditions of the UT program, as well as those the entire SEC proudly clings to.

Last week former Marion County and UT star linebacker Eric Westmoreland told me that he and many former players, including Al Wilson, were bothered because Kiffin never embraced UT traditions such as reciting Gen. Neyland's game maxims and his staff showed highlights of former USC All-Americans to recruits rather than players such as Peyton Manning, Wilson and Jamal Lewis.

"I saw the videos and thought, 'We've had some pretty good players here, too, you know,'" Westmoreland said.

Stop worrying about whether Kiffin ever had a Tennessee driver's license and instead be glad the program now has a coach who speaks with the same Southern drawl that many of us use when we order a sweet tea at Southern Star. Or the fact that Dooley seamlessly inserted words such as "britches" when talking about the rebuilding job he faces.

And rest easy knowing he's not likely to run off kids like B.J. Coleman, who possesses the character and desire needed to bring a team together and understood what it meant to the rest of the state and fan base to slap the sign hanging over the locker room promising to "give my all for Tennessee."

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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Livn4life said...

Amen Hargis, VOLNATION--listen very closely, "LET THE LANE GO! WE HAVE BETTER THINGS AHEAD!" It may take some time but Rocky Top will again be the toast of the town no matte what we may have to endure nor what any NAYSAYERS throw at us. GO DOOLEY, GO VOLS!

January 22, 2010 at 10:13 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Just because Dooley has a southern accent, and we all know his momma and daddy, it doesn't erase the FACT that for 3 years as a head coach he was 17-20...and last year 3-5 in his OWN conference....nice, honest guy..but sadly he will only be , at best a 7 or 8 win a season coach...NOT a championship coach

January 22, 2010 at 10:58 p.m.
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