Impatient waiting soon to end for Vols

Impatient waiting soon to end for Vols

Tennessee begins its first preseason camp under the Kiffins a week from Monday.

July 26th, 2009 by Wes Rucker in Sports - College

KNOXVILLE -- Local, regional and national media packed the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., on Friday afternoon in hopes of hearing first-year Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin close the Southeastern Conference media days by putting his foot in his mouth.

Kiffin disappointed many by expressing a simple desire to put a whistle in his mouth.

"You guys probably think that I've thought a lot about this -- because there's been this huge build-up and everything, and every question I've had all week has been about it -- but this is just part of my job," Kiffin told a smaller room of reporters before entering the main event. "It's just another day with the media. There just happens to be more of you guys. It's no different than what I do all the time.

"I'd rather be doing stuff that really helps us win. I'd rather it be like yesterday, when I was in my office looking at film and making recruiting calls and trying to help our program."

Good news, Coach. It's almost that time.

The Volunteers officially report to campus Saturday -- though most of them have been around all summer -- and preseason camps starts two days later.

"I've got the itch, no lie," junior All-America safety Eric Berry said.

Added senior tailback Montario Hardesty: "You've got no idea. It's been too long. We're ready to strap it up and go."

One of the wildest offseasons in UT history is almost over, but these last several days probably will feel like an eternity to the Vols and their coaches -- particularly the five who spent last season in the NFL, where there is significantly more time for on-field instruction in the spring and summer.

"You get used to being at that level and not having rules of how much you can work with your kids, so there's a little bit of transition there," Kiffin said. "My dad has the hardest transition, because he's been there so long."

Kiffin's father, UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, hadn't coached in college since 1982.

"We have to tell him all the time, because he can't fathom how there's so many rules that don't let you get kids better," Lane Kiffin said. "He brings something up every day."

The son's favorite story happened earlier this month, when his father approached him about spending time on the field with All-SEC linebacker Rico McCoy.

Here's Lane's best recollection of the conversation.

Monte: "You think I can just go down there today and just help Rico a little?"

Lane: "No, you can't."

Monte: "You're telling me I can't go help a kid get better because of the rules?"

Lane: "Yes, I am."

Monte: "When you go see (SEC commissioner Mike Slive) next week, ask him if a kid was hurting, would they let the doctor help the kid if it was a certain time of year or not?"

Lane laughed heartily at that, he said, but noted: "I didn't bring that up to the commissioner. I said, 'I've got enough things to deal with there, Dad. Thanks, though. Good idea.'"

Lane got so tired of Monte stewing around impatiently near the film room that he "kicked him out of the office" last week and sent him home to Tampa.

"We'd been on vacation for three weeks, and I'd seen (Dad) in the office every single day," Lane said. "My mom is calling me, telling me, 'Will you please send him on vacation? I haven't seen him.'

"So I send him to Tampa, and I think he's on vacation. Then I find out that the Tampa Bay Bucs set up an office for him. This is a true story. He's going in every single day in the morning and not coming home still night. My mom calls, says, 'He ain't been here one time. He's not here for breakfast; he's not here till after dinner.' They'd set up this office, and they streamlined all the film from SEC film for all the opponents ... into the Tampa facility. He was still working down there every day."

Such is life for Monte Kiffin, whom Berry affectionately calls "the Wickipedia of defense."

"He's always in the lab, cooking up good stuff for us," Berry said.

He and the other Vols coaches can start serving those recipes next week.

"All this other stuff is fine and all, but I can't wait to get out there and start coaching football again," Lane Kiffin said. "That's why I'm at Tennessee, and that's why our players are at Tennessee."