A Tennessee fan at the Big Orange Tipoff Club luncheon asked new football coach Lane Kiffin about his clothing Wednesday. You probably can guess the question.
Hint: It involved the color orange.
Other fans have commented on the lack of orange in Kiffin's wardrobe. His response was no more surprising than the question.
Kiffin hasn't had the time to go shopping. He's more interested in recruiting big-time players than a Big Orange blazer.
My first take on Kiffin: He's all business. My most recent take: Same as the first.
But he did more than confirm a first impression Wednesday. He also demonstrated his understanding of the business.
It's not just about hiring assistant coaches, recruiting players or coaching players. Business also includes energizing and unifying UT's fan base, which had become both apathetic and divided.
Obviously, that was his intent last week when he touched off a fire storm of criticism for his digs at opposing coaches at a UT "recruiting celebration."
The most inflammatory comment was a charge that Florida coach Urban Meyer had committed a secondary NCAA violation. That enraged the University of Florida, drew a reprimand from the SEC Office and forced an apology from Kiffin.
My guess: That won't be his last reprimand or forced apology.
Kiffin didn't return to the firing range Wednesday. He didn't express remorse, either.
For example, take his opening line to the Big Orange Tipoff Club: "We'll make sure that we don't offend anyone in the conference or any other school today. We'll be very nice."
Detect a sense of sarcasm?
Later, in response to a question from the audience, Kiffin broached the subject again.
"I like to have fun with some things," he said. "The example I can give you is that (South Carolina coach) Steve Spurrier came out the first day I was here and accused me of recruiting without having passed the test (as required by the NCAA).
"I didn't call the (SEC) commissioner whining about it. I just shot back at him, joking around with him. We'll make sure we're aware of how sensitive people are around here."
"Here's the point: This is about our players. We're not going to win any games without them. We're not going to be able to continue to recruit without a great fan base.
"The sense I've got is that we have an energized fan base right now, and an energized state that's excited about it. If it took that stuff to get it done, it's working. And if it took that stuff to get our players motivated at 5:30 in the morning (for off-season workouts), it's working. I like the way it's going."
Kiffin also likes the way UT's fans have responded.
"You guys understand how powerful (Thompson-Boling Arena) was when we played Florida the other night, and we won," Kiffin told the fans. "When I was at the last college (Southern California), we didn't even take our recruits to the basketball games. We didn't take them because it wasn't a highlight.
"I promise you if you read the articles (about the recruits) and they talk about the highlight of the trip, it wasn't meeting me; it wasn't our coaching staff. The highlight of the trip was the basketball game.
"It wasn't just because we won. It was because of you guys."
Kiffin said the players were wowed by the passion of the fans. He included that in his closing arguments to recruits.
"That's 22,000 (fans)," Kiffin told them. "Think about when there's 107,000 like there will be at football games."
Kiffin isn't just selling recruits. He's selling fans by making them feel more important. He's also trying to get his players revved up. And he's not concerned about how his comments play elsewhere.
Kiffin said he addressed that issue with his players Tuesday morning.
"I told our guys, 'Understand this: There is nobody outside of the Tennessee fans and the group right here that will ever help us win a football game,' " Kiffin said. "We really don't care if we offend some people on the way to getting there."
That was already obvious.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.