If you read the lead story on the News Sentinel sports page Wednesday, your first reaction might have been: "That's old news."
I'm referring to the large, bold headline which read "Kiffin asked for public apology."
As astute followers of Tennessee football realize, this isn't the first time new coach Lane Kiffin has been asked to apologize. As they also know, this won't be the last time.
The most recent demand for an apology comes from the fine city of Pahokee, Fla., which - despite what you might have heard - has electricity, running water, Internet access and paved roads. Kiffin suggested otherwise following his successful recruitment of receiver Nu'Keese Richardson.
I can understand why the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce president would be offended by Kiffin's suggestion that Pahokee wasn't - well, let's say - as cosmopolitan as Palatka. Kiffin's quote, as it appeared in the Gainesville Sun: "For those of you who haven't been to Pahokee, there ain't much going on. You take that hour drive up from South Florida, there ain't a gas station that works. Nobody's got enough money to even have shoes or a short on."
You could argue that Kiffin didn't just offend Pahokee. He denigrated all of the rural South and the nation's poor as well.
But I don't think that was his intent. As a columnist, I can relate to the confusion. Readers sometimes miss my intent so badly, I question whether we're dealing in the same language.
My guess is Kiffin was trying to be funny. Unfortunately, Pahokee isn't laughing.
So what's Kiffin supposed to do? Return to Pahokee and make an apology on the town square, assuming there is a town square?
Please. He's a college football coach. He's trying to win games. He's trying to recruit players. He doesn't have time for apologies.
Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not insensitive to Pahokee's complaint, or to anyone else who feels as though Kiffin has insulted them. Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Mark Richt, B.J. Coleman, Bryce Petty, Al Davis, the SEC office, gas station attendants, and the entire state of South Carolina come to mind.
If I left out anyone, I apologize.
Kiffin can apologize, too. But he can't do it on an individual basis. There's simply not enough time for someone as busy as a football coach.
That's why I would recommend mass-produced Lane Kiffin I'm-sorry postcards, featuring a photo of the coach and his signature beneath the message: "If I offended you or your school, I'm truly sorry."
Although e-mail or Twitter would be more practical, the postcard would be more distinctive. It also would imply greater effort.
But what if that's not enough? What if some outraged city official or school administrator is so incensed by the magnitude of a perceived insult, that he demands a personal appearance.
That's when you dispatch your official Lane Kiffin Apologist. All you need is a 30-something, tall, blond guy who won't be unnerved by offering a sincere apology in front of a large, hostile crowd.
I know what you bean counters are thinking: "That could be expensive."
UT can pay Phillip Fulmer $6 million not to coach and include a $7.5 million buyout clause in Kiffin's contract. It can afford an official apologist. Besides, I'm not saying he has to be on staff. Pay him an appearance fee.
You probably wouldn't need him more than once a month.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.