Lane Kiffin was asked several times during his weekly press conference on Tuesday about being reprimanded by the SEC.
The first-year Tennessee head coach reserved comment – as best he could.
“As hard as it is for me to do, I’m not getting into it,” Kiffin said with a grin. “I’d like to.”
Kiffin was reprimanded by the SEC on Monday after he criticized the officiating in UT’s 12-10 loss to Alabama on Saturday. Kiffin hinted that he did so to stand up for his players following a game in which they were penalized seven more times for 58 yards more yards than the Crimson Tide.
“I think that you guys know me,” Kiffin said to the media. “I think we have great confidence in our players. We always stand up for our players.”
Kiffin cited his public stance on quarterback Jonathan Crompton as proof that such allegiance can pay dividends. Crompton has played well in UT’s last two games despite a shaky start to the season, which prompted many fans to call for him to be benched.
“When they see me saying things, they know that I have confidence in them that we can play against anybody,” Kiffin said. “They know that this staff isn’t worried about who we play or where we’re playing.
“They believe that we can put together a plan that we can go beat everybody. I think that’s what your goal is.”
Defensive tackle Wes Brown said he appreciates Kiffin standing up for UT’s players.
“When you have a coach that goes to battle for you, it really instills confidence in you,” the senior said. “You really believe in what he says. It goes from him to our senior leadership then throughout the whole team.”