Kiffin's first year at Tennessee lively

Kiffin's first year at Tennessee lively

December 20th, 2009 in Sports - College


Dec. 1, 2008 -- Kiffin is officially hired at UT and fires off the first of many one-liners at a rival program: "I'm really looking forward to embracing some of the great traditions at the University of Tennessee -- for instance, the Vol Walk, running through the 'T,' singing 'Rocky Top' all night long after we beat Florida next year. It will be a blast."

Dec. 20, 2008 -- Kiffin asks South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier what he made on the NCAA test.

Jan. 9, 2009 -- UT uses a fog machine and fake news conference to simulate a gameday experience for a group of recruits, which the NCAA considers a secondary recruiting violation.

Jan. 17, 2009 -- Kiffin brags about poaching assistants from all over the SEC, saying: "To be able to take South Carolina's recruiting coordinator, Mississippi State's recruiting coordinator, Alabama's best recruiter and Auburn's best recruiter over the past 10 years was a great accomplishment for us."

Feb. 4, 2009 -- In the late night hours before national signing day, Kiffin reportedly tells elite wide receiver prospect Alshon Jeffrey that if he stays in state and signs with South Carolina he will be "pumping gas for the rest of your life." Kiffin still steadfastly denies making that comment and says Jeffrey admitted that privately.

Feb. 5, 2009 -- Kiffin stuns many by signing one of the nation's top 15 rated classes (at the time) despite little time with his new staff assembled. He also begins pointing fingers at star UT receiving prospect Nu'Keese Richardson's hometown of Pahokee, Fla., saying: "Someone at the school was going to screw it up. The fax machine wouldn't work, or they would have changed the signatures -- all the things that go on in Pahokee."

Feb. 6, 2009 -- Kiffin, in a recruiting celebration for boosters he thought was private, accuses Florida coach Urban Meyer of violating NCAA rules. A television camera is at the party, so this comment is given large national exposure: "I'm going to turn Florida in right here in front of you. While Nu'Keese was on campus, his phone kept ringing. One of the coaches says, 'Who's that?' And he said, 'Urban Meyer.' I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him." SEC commissioner Mike Slive later publicly reprimands Kiffin for the comments, and the coach releases an apology through UT sports information.

Feb. 9, 2009 -- UT officially reports two secondary violations for the Jan. 9 incidents and issues letters of reprimand to Kiffin and recruiting coordinator and associate head coach Ed Orgeron.

Feb. 13, 2009 -- Kiffin mentions star unsigned prospect Bryce Brown's name on a Knoxville radio interview, which the NCAA considers another secondary violation.

March 16, 2009 -- Brown, a tailback from Kansas rated by many as the nation's top overall prospect, signs with UT to complete a top-10 signing class.

May 12, 2009 -- Pahokee High School administrators demand an apology from Kiffin for his comments about their community, and UT coaches are banned from entering the school.

May 19, 2009 -- Pahokee High School, satisfied with Kiffin's apology, allow UT coaches back in the building.

May 20, 2009 -- Kiffin's page features the name of a recently committed but unsigned prospect, which the NCAA also considers a secondary violation. "It's a beautiful day in Knoxville, Tennessee today," the post says. "I was so exited to hear that J.C. Copeland committed to play for the Vols today!" Kiffin and athletic director Mike Hamilton later state that Kiffin does not update his own Twitter page, but the secondary violation is still self-reported and accepted by the NCAA.

May 26, 2009 -- Spurrier confronts Kiffin by an elevator in front of several reporters at the SEC's annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla. Spurrier initiates the controversy by questioning whether Kiffin started recruiting for UT before taking the NCAA's mandatory recruiting test. Kiffin jokes back days later that he nearly aced the test, and he wondered whether Spurrier did so well. "I didn't accuse you of cheating," Spurrier snipes at a quiet Kiffin that day, and he continues voicing displeasure as the coaches ride the elevator up to a meeting.

June 7, 2009 -- A segment on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" features Kiffin and shows another secondary violation. Kiffin is shown speaking with prospects on camera. ESPN mentions the violation immediately after showing the feature.

Aug. 4, 2009 -- Kiffin's first preseason camp as UT's head coach starts with a pads-free practice.

Sept. 5, 2009 -- The Kiffin era opens with a 63-7 throttling of Western Kentucky that features five touchdown passes from much-maligned senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton.

Sept. 19, 2009 -- One week after an embarrassing home loss to UCLA, UT restores a measure of respect by losing 23-13 at No. 1-ranked, defending national champion Florida. Most expect Meyer to run up the score on Kiffin, but the game never gets to that point.

Sept. 21, 2009 -- Kiffin snipes back at Meyer's comments that the Vols didn't play to beat Florida, and that several Gators players struggled while battling the flu. Asked whether he was worried about his team getting the flu bug, Kiffin says: "I don't know. I guess we'll wait and after we're not excited about a performance, we'll tell you everybody was sick." Kiffin voices disappointment that Meyer called out UT after Slive told coaches to keep negative comments to themselves.

Oct. 10, 2009 -- UT turns around its season with a 45-19 thrashing of SEC Eastern Division rival Georgia.

Oct. 24, 2009 -- The Vols nearly stun then-No. 2 Alabama, losing 12-10 after getting two field goals blocked in the fourth quarter, including one as time expires.

Oct. 28, 2009 -- News surfaces that popular hip-hop artist Lil Wayne mentioned Kiffin in a song called "Banned From TV." A lyric in the song says, "Smoke weed, talk (stuff) like Lane Kiffin." The coach thanks the controversialrapper on Twitter and in media interviews for boosting the Vols' "street cred."

Oct. 30, 2009 -- Slive sends Kiffin a seething letter in response to Kiffin's comments regarding the officiating in UT's loss at Alabama. Kiffin mentioned "magic flags" and made several references to the game's penalty discrepancy, despite the Vols entering the game second nationally in fewest flags per game. Slive's letter responded to Kiffin's comment that he expected an apology letter from the league that meant "nothing." Slive's response: "Since it is clear from your public comments that you believe this letter 'mean(s) nothing,' let me be equally as clear to you. The next time you, or a member of your staff, make public comments of this nature, you will be suspended from all coaching duties for one or more games, and the institution may be subjected to a substantial fine."

Nov. 12, 2009 -- Richardson and freshmen defensive backs Mike Edwards and Janzen Jackson are arrested in connection with an attempted aggravated robbery with a pellet gun at a Pilot convenience store near campus. Jackson later is reinstated to the team after all charges against him are dropped, but Edwards and Richardson are eventually dismissed from the program. Those remain the only three known arrests in Kiffin's first season.

Nov. 14, 2009 -- Kiffin says his team wasn't distracted, but it certainly misses budding star Jackson in a 42-17 loss at Ole Miss. UT's first four losses came with a total deficit of 20, five points less than the one-day shellacking in Oxford.

Nov. 28, 2009 -- UT wins in overtime at Kentucky to clinch second place in the SEC East and a winning record in Kiffin's first season.

Dec. 15, 2009 -- A New York Times story unveils an NCAA investigation into UT football recruiting practices, focusing primarily on a 200-mile trip made by multiple female UT student ambassadors to a high school football game in Duncan, S.C. Kiffin and Hamilton deny knowledge of any wrongdoing in the matter.