Coach Lane Kiffin shared some thoughts on Tennessee’s football program with talk show host Hallerin Hilton Hill of WNOX on Thursday morning. Here are some of the more interesting quotes from coach Kiffin:
On His Competitive Nature: Even when we were at S.C. (Southern California) and we had things going and all the wins in a row, we’d come out of a game and we’d win 50-14 and I’d be trying to figure out why we didn’t win 57-14.
On Questions About His Youth: I’ve not felt that at all here. I think that is because, at 31, I was a head coach in the NFL. That was obviously a question at the time, the youngest head coach that had ever been in the NFL. I kind of went through that.
Doing that at that age is more difficult than being young in college because (in the NFL) you’re dealing with players that are older than you …You had to find a way to motivate them.
I don’t really get it that much anymore. I think part of that is just the experience.
On Team Rules: We don’t have a ton of rules but we do have a few. The first rule is the most important rule: You always protect your team.
I believe your team is like your family. All the decisions they make have to come back to what are the best decisions for our team — whether that’s in the media, whether that’s decisions on campus or in nightlife, driving, all the decisions that come up in life.
When a player is making decisions that are solely based on him and not on his team and his family, they have to go unfortunately.
I don’t like to kick anyone off. I wish we didn’t have to kick anyone off our team but it’s too valuable to the players that are here and all the players that are coming in.
On His Outspoken Manner: We had to do some things to get Tennessee out there. We have to recruit nationally. We have to be all over the country and all over the news. We got that done.
Unfortunately that’s the way it is. If you look back to when I was a head coach in the NFL, I didn’t say anything anywhere close to the stuff I’ve said here because it’s different. You don’t have to recruit. You’re not into marketing.
We’re talking about freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school. The response has been great, not just in this class that was just signed. A number of kids wouldn’t have stepped foot on our campus if we didn’t get out there and they weren’t hearing about us.
Now, we’ve got ninth and tenth graders calling us because everyone’s talking about it.
On The Difference in Today’s Players: Unfortunately, the number one thing that is on their mind is the NFL. You’ve got to understand that. You’ve got to motivate them in the classroom and in the community as well, but it’s so money driven and professionally driven to get to the NFL and make the money as fast as you can.
When we get this program really rolling, we’re going to deal with a lot of three-year kids. We’re going to deal with a lot of kids that if they don’t get injured and they follow our direction and take our coaching, in three years they’re going to be in the NFL.
I wish it was different. I wish it was not like this. But it is the way it is. I think we can deal with it extremely well.
On UT being an NFL Pipeline: That’s the reality of it. That’s what kids are thinking. Do you get some kids that are highly motivated to get their degree? Sure you do. But they’re not all like that. That’s just not how society is today.
So we have to know that. We think that we are a pipeline to the NFL. The drills that we do, our systems on offense and defense are straight from the NFL. They (prospects) are getting coaches that have coached in the NFL. They’re getting coaches that have coached a ton of first-round draft picks — 11 national championships between this staff and a Super Bowl championship.
We do know what it takes to get guys there. We’ve sat in draft rooms for years. We know what it takes and we know how to get you there. That was the same thing for us at USC and it will be the same way here.
On UT’s Quarterbacks: The three guys are doing well. Jonathan Crompton has seemed to kind of be the frontrunner and made the decisions up to this point. But it’s very competitive and I’m excited about how they’re playing.
On Bruce Pearl and Pat Summitt: Both of them are so dynamic. And they’re so competitive.
I think it was the day after they lost or the next day after they lost (to Ball State in the NCAA tournament) and coach Summitt is in here down on our practice field just grinding her girls. I sent our whole staff down there to meet her and just to watch her.
Then Coach Pearl, he came in our staff meeting yesterday. Our defensive line (coach)/recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, they’re kind of the same guy. They come in. They’ve got the loud voice and all the energy. Bruce coaches basketball but I’d love him on our football staff because he’s got a football personality.
On UT’s Offense and Defense This Fall: We won’t say exactly what it is because I don’t know. That has to do with our players. I don’t try to fit something in where it doesn’t fit. We’ll fit it to our players. We’ll do whatever we do best. I don’t know what that will be.
There will be times where we could run it 40 times in a game and times where we could throw it 40 times a game. We’ll do whatever it takes to win. We won’t be stubborn and do something that our players don’t do extremely well.
And on defense, we’ll be very physical.
Joking About Being His Father’s (defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin) Boss: He doesn’t listen very well I’ve noticed. He just kind of walks in and out of meeting whenever he wants.