First-year Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin has gone more than a week without committing an NCAA secondary violation. Depending on your point of view, that's cause for concern or remorse.
You know the history. Kiffin committed a secondary violation when he dropped the name of recruit Bryce Brown on the Sports Page radio show. Then, he signed Brown, rated as the No. 1 high school running back in the country.
Next, he was featured on ESPN's "Outside the Lines." And since a UT recruit also was featured, there was apparently another secondary violation. So not only did Kiffin receive national publicity for being on the show, he received more national publicity for committing a secondary violation.
The publicity has been so massive, you would think Kiffin has been committing secondary violations in his sleep. But based on what has been reported, he's not even averaging one a month.
Nonetheless, the publicity is magnified by the ongoing debate as to whether Kiffin is a loose cannon leading UT down a disastrous path toward NCAA probation.
At the risk of quelling the spirited discourse, I ask: "How many programs have been wrecked by secondary violations?"
Secondary violations aren't the equivalent of speeding tickets. They're the equivalent of parking tickets. And no one is going to NCAA jail because of them.
Of course, it's not just the violations; it's also Kiffin's cavalier attitude toward them.
Many UT fans can roll merrily along with that. Others might see storm clouds gathering.
Whether you are on the gloomful or gleeful side of the issue, there's no debating the reality of it. The secondary violations have gotten UT and Kiffin nothing but national publicity and increased street cred.
You think recruits are repelled by secondary violations? If so, then you also think teenagers are enamored with following the rules of the establishment.
In Kiffin, they seemingly have found a kindred spirit who laughs in the face of minor rules violations. That might not get a unanimous endorsement from the establishment, but Kiffin isn't recruiting the establishment. He's recruiting teenagers.
You could argue that he's also recruiting their parents, some of whom might be looking for an authority figure in their absence. He has to convince them that their son will prosper in his program.
Based on how well he has recruited, breaking minor NCAA rules hasn't sabotaged his sales pitch.
The general populace might regard Kiffin as a controversial figure who delights in needling opposing programs and mocking the NCAA rule book. But the parents of recruits apparently view him differently. In fact, they see a coach with whom they can entrust their son.
"He was very polite and upbeat, and he does have a passion for coaching," said Rusty Revis, the father of offensive lineman Kevin Revis, who signed with UT in February. "He is very confident in his ability and his coaching staff's ability. You get the feeling this man has a plan and will do whatever it takes (to make it work)."
Lamont Green, who is the uncle and legal guardian of UT wide receiver signee James Green, got a similar impression.
"Everything about (Kiffin) impressed me," said Green, a former Florida State linebacker who is now responsible for coordinating support services for FSU football players. He's also involved in the recruiting process, so basically Kiffin was having to recruit a recruiter when he signed Green's nephew.
"He's got a no-nonsense attitude," Green said. "He tells you what he will tolerate and what he won't tolerate. You can see the passion in his eyes."
Secondary violations will come and go. So might the excessive hype that accompanies them.
But maintaining and conveying a passion for football is more significant for a young coach trying to rebuild UT's program.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.