The World Series begins Wednesday, and Lane Kiffin is down to his last strike. Let the drama unfold.
Actually, there won't be much drama with Tennessee's first-year head football coach, who has been reprimanded for the second time by the SEC office. You know how he rolls.
Translation: A third strike is inevitable.
He will go down swinging from the heels with a smirk as wide as the state of Tennessee. The only question: Will his target be an SEC official or coach? He already has taken shots at both, which brings us to Monday's public reprimand from SEC commissioner Mike Slive.
Quoting the commissioner: "Coach Kiffin has violated the Southeastern Conference code of ethics. SEC Bylaw 10.5.4 clearly states that coaches, players, and support personnel shall refrain from all public criticism of officials.
"This is the second reprimand for Coach Kiffin in this calendar year. Coach Kiffin is on notice that for any further violations of SEC policies will subject him to additional penalties, including suspension?"
Suspension? Anything but that, right?
Imagine what a suspension would do for the street cred of a coach who needed only a couple of months to establish himself as the SEC's resident maverick and ESPN's must-have college football interview. Better yet, imagine what it would do for recruiting.
Kiffin already has recruited by billboard and rent-a-copter. Recruiting by suspension would be even more creative. The lure would be irresistible.
A possible scenario:
Following a victory or defeat against South Carolina on Saturday, Kiffin compliments the officials for performing "less hideously" than the Alabama crew, which was "so vision-impared, it didn't notice a 354-pound man without a helmet."
Just to make sure his barbs didn't go unnoticed, Kiffin could continue his commentary at Sunday's post-practice media session.
Reporter: "Coach, now that you have had a chance to see the video, what do you think of Saturday's officiating?
Kiffin (deadpan): "I think it's amazing how much fairer the officiating is when you aren't playing a conference team in the running for the national championship."
Reporter: "Are you saying that the officials are favoring the league's best teams?"
Kiffin (deadpan): "Of course not. I'm just kidding. And I'm sure Bobby Petrino and Dan Mullen can appreciate the humor."
Reporter: "Aren't you afraid of getting in trouble with the conference office?"
Kiffin (smirking): "What are they going to do, suspend me?"
The next day, the SEC would suspend Kiffin for the Vanderbilt game. The day after that, Kiffin would cancel practice so that he could spend the entire day and night on ESPN.
You might argue that UT would be at a disadvantage if its head coach couldn't be on the sideline. And you would be right if we still communicated via cave scrawl.
But Kiffin could call the offensive plays by cellphone. Better yet, he could do it live on ESPN.
The network wouldn't even need a color commentator. Kiffin could provide the color. When he wasn't calling plays, he could second-guess the opposing coaches and, of course, the officials.
The worst thing that could happen? He could get suspended for the Kentucky game, too.
You can't buy that kind of publicity.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.