Kiffin exit rankles Vols fans

His departure enraged Rocky Top.

From the Hill on campus to Capitol Hill in Nashville, University of Tennessee football fans directed their anger Wednesday at former coach Lane Kiffin.

"I was shocked, angry and disappointed," said Josh Ferguson, a UT sophomore engineering major.

Legislators refused to follow their annual custom of honoring UT's football coach after a winning season.

Kiffin spurned UT, where he had spent only one season, for the University of Southern California, and Volunteer fans took it personally. East Tennesseans grumbled around their water coolers, groused over beers and vented through social networks.

No fewer than 32 Facebook pages devoted to Kiffin-bashing materialized overnight. By midday more than 2,000 users had signed up as fans.

Some had names that couldn't be printed in a family newspaper. Many online comments - some of them aimed at Kiffin's family - couldn't be reprinted either.

One page was dubbed "Toss a Shoe at Lane Kiffin," a reference to the Iraqi who threw his footwear at President George W. Bush. Another was named, "Lane Kiffin: I will find you, kill you, and eat your firstborn child!"

Vitriol filled Twitter accounts. Threads on Internet message boards, even nonsports sites like Knoxblab and Knoxviews, unravelled into anti-Kiffin slugfests.

One particularly outraged fan posted a video on YouTube showing him urinating on a Kiffin-themed UT t-shirt before setting it afire.

Students viewed the departure as betrayal. On Tuesday night they hurled obscenities at any vehicle leaving the athletic department offices that could possibly contain Kiffin. They set a bonfire. They painted vile comments about Kiffin and his wife on the Rock, UT's granite canvas for student expression.

They indulged in hyperbolic hatred, comparing Kiffin to Hitler and Satan.

He was only at UT for 14 months and his record was a mediocre 7-6, but Kiffin's pro-football pedigree and brash braggadocio had energized the Volunteer faithful.

Former players were furious, too. Before Kiffin's brief tenure, UT had known only two coaches over the past three decades.

Part One: UT AD Mike Hamilton on Kiffin's departure

Words were more measured within the UT Athletic Department, though the anger seemed to pitch beneath the surface.

At a press conference in a media room tucked under the stands at Neyland Stadium, interim head coach Kippy Brown acknowledged the players were mad and the mood was "gloom and doom," but emphasized, in the way of coaches, the virtues of overcoming adversity.

"There are going to be bumps in the road," he recalled telling the team Tuesday night. "It's how you react to those bumps that is the difference between success and failure."

Athletic director Mike Hamilton said he understood why Kiffin would leave for his dream job at a school where he enjoyed success as an assistant. But Hamilton seemed to identify more with the 500 or so students who nearly rioted on campus the night before.

"If they were displeased, they have every right to be. … Heck, I might have been out there with 'em if I'd been here," he said.

Hamilton voiced confidence in Brown (who said he'd like the top job on a permanent basis) and noted that the Sweetwater native and three-time UT assistant coach is part of the Big Orange family, saying: "Kippy's one of us."

Kiffin no longer is.

He and his family left East Tennessee from McGhee-Tyson Airport at 2:25 p.m. aboard a plane registered to Fletcher Jones Management Group Inc. of Las Vegas. The family-owned company owns a string a luxury car dealerships in Hawaii, California, Nevada and Illinois. USC's Web site lists some of the Fletcher Jones dealerships as supporters that donate the use of vehicles to the Trojan athletic department.

Hours earlier, during an on-campus interview with the News Sentinel, Kiffin praised Tennessee and its fans, and explained that USC was the only school capable of luring him away.

"But really this is the one place that I'd leave for, and I hope people understand that," he said.

Many don't.

Some are bitter and don't understand why someone would voluntarily leave UT.

At the afternoon press conference, Hamilton might have spoken for all Vol fans when he said: "We want someone who wants to be here."

Scott Barker may be reached at 865-342-6309. Amy Smotherman Burgess, Chloe White Kennedy and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 34

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Can't take all this anymore, I think Ill get away from anything Vol-related for an entire day....to recharge.

HarryHood writes:

Lifelong Vol fan here. Eat his firstborn child? As a father, I assume I would have to kill someone to have this kind of hatred flung at me. Come on, Vol Nation, have a little tact.

As Brown said, we will always be Tennessee. As a loyal fan, I will EVENTUALLY be rewarded. I truly believe that times of adversity such as this will make the inevitable success that will come (possibly in the distant future) all the sweeter. Forget Lane Kiffin, he is gone. And have faith in the future. Alabama was the laughingstock of the SEC after their sanctions, and the 'Bama loyal (as much as I despise them) have been rewarded for their loyalty this year. Our time will come.

In the meantime, GBO!!!!!

jman33163 writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:

Can't take all this anymore, I think Ill get away from anything Vol-related for an entire day....to recharge.

Surprisingly, I agree :)

I think I am out until we hire a coach! Peace out everyone!!!

Go Big Orange!!!!!!!!!!

diamond_dave35#235769 writes:

in response to HarryHood:

Lifelong Vol fan here. Eat his firstborn child? As a father, I assume I would have to kill someone to have this kind of hatred flung at me. Come on, Vol Nation, have a little tact.

As Brown said, we will always be Tennessee. As a loyal fan, I will EVENTUALLY be rewarded. I truly believe that times of adversity such as this will make the inevitable success that will come (possibly in the distant future) all the sweeter. Forget Lane Kiffin, he is gone. And have faith in the future. Alabama was the laughingstock of the SEC after their sanctions, and the 'Bama loyal (as much as I despise them) have been rewarded for their loyalty this year. Our time will come.

In the meantime, GBO!!!!!

Come on man lighten up..its all in good fun..if it were me though Id strip him down to his trojan boxers and fire paintballs at him from 5 feet away for an hour!

HarryHood writes:

in response to diamond_dave35#235769:

Come on man lighten up..its all in good fun..if it were me though Id strip him down to his trojan boxers and fire paintballs at him from 5 feet away for an hour!

I haven't taken any of this personally. I have MUCH larger concerns than who our football coach is.

But.

QUOTE:
Another was named, "Lane Kiffin: I will find you, kill you, and eat your firstborn child!"

Again, with the tact comment. I stand by it.

GBO!

HarryHood writes:

^That being said, I would LOVE to strip him down to his Trojan boxers and fire paintballs (orange ones at that)....

TSCinSFO writes:

The 2 Facebook sites that I joined and vented on had 40,000+ member. Shows how angry everyone is.

VolunTexas writes:

It was only a matter of time. When Kiffin complemented Meyer after first announcing his retirement, it felt like a trial balloon had been floated to secure the Florida job. The guy wanted to leave so I for one am glad to put this behind us.

byrd4vols writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

vol75 writes:

Rankled? It should be a time of celebration. Kiffin is poison wherever he is. Thanks to USC for taking him off our hands. By this time next week, it will be clear that we are much better off without him....

deesam#309104 writes:

I wish him well, because for one fleeting season we all had our hopes and dreams of returning to our glory days. In leaving, he did what he thought was best for his career, regardless of what we think. What he did not realize the Volnation is a family, we win together and lose together and just like in most families we stick together when things are tough. I don't think Kiffin really understood what it means to be the head coach of a college football team, like the UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE. I'm not too sure that Hamiliton does either.
.

GAGAVOL writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

WD feel rankled cause he know he Kiffin's lapdog. Now he dumped in floor. Not feel good.

tulelakevol writes:

That (insert whatever name you want for the former coach) could not get on that plane fast enough. I know he was scared for his life. He could not handle the pressure of the SEC, and copped out to the kitty 10 conference. Glad to see him go.

rootin4volz writes:

Look at all Alabama has gone through since their last championship in 1992. They emerged victorious once again...AND SO WILL THE VOLS!!!!

Ron1967 writes:

This really isn't about Lil Lane leaving. It's the timing. Three weeks before national signing date. "Kiffen", his deceitful old man, and crazy Oregeron spent the last year recruiting on UT's dime. Now they are trying to turn it to their advantage as we see with the early enrollees.

If he had conducted himself in an ethical way and stayed for three or four years of his contract, then it would have been goodbye and good luck. And good riddance.

VolOak writes:

He thought of his own narcissistic butt rather than the young men who had put their trust and careers in his sorry hands...then dumped them like a piece of garbage. And if Orgeron did what has been rumored (trying to get our recruits already committed to go with them), then the NCAA needs to bar his fat direar from coaching college forever. Talk about sorry!! He broke the mold...right behind Kiffin.

Won't it be ironic if his recruiting violations at USC when he was there at USC comes back and takes off both cheeks!!! Talk about poetic justice.

gatornkazoo writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LibertyVolance writes:

in response to ckgator:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The fact is that many of us liked him until the moment he announced his resignation and departure. Now there is a definite feeling of betrayal which is to be expected. You would feel no different.

Which brings us to the uncertain. Why are you here?

Vol_Tracker writes:

Lane Kiffin is a piece of trash- pure and simple.
He has negligible character, class, loyalty and respect.
He and Orgeron(sp?) are the slime-iest dirtbags to ever appear on the UT athletic scene.
Kiffin, without his father, is a young, undistinguished coach who makes up for his inadequacies with his loud, bastful mouth. He is merely a spoiled punk with no regard for anyone besides himself. What he did to the team, recruits, fans and the University is almost unfathomable to any one with any virtue.

That is my epitaph to a weasle whose reputation will be irrevocably soiled by his utterly disgusting behavior exhibited to so many who welcomed him warmly, gave him a chance and enthusiatically cheered him on.

UT is absolutely better off without this morally deficient pretender and I am sure time will bear this out. What will Lame do when daddy's not there? His coaching days are numbered. I give him about two years if the NCAA doesn't get him and Oregeron first.

Now Tennessee can really build a formidible team to reckon with. Like the basketball team rose to overcome the controversery with a victory over Kansas, the Volunteer Football Team will show the same spirit when the next solid coach is named and is at the helm.

There is a time to grieve, but I think we all should celebrate shedding a loser for a soon to be named winner. Better times are ahead.

WhitePineVol77 writes:

LK's press conference at USC made me want to throw up. "Sorry it took the family so long to get out of Knoxville". "We knew we were home when we got on the freeway out here". If he ever comes back to E Tn, he needs to wear a disguise!

Aerosailor writes:

Oh please spare us any more drama on this issue! OK Kiffins is a jerk! Now lets move on to find someone of quality & character! All of the acting out by students & fans is childish! Enough of the whining and get on with the search for a great coach.

WhitePineVol77 writes:

in response to Aerosailor:

Oh please spare us any more drama on this issue! OK Kiffins is a jerk! Now lets move on to find someone of quality & character! All of the acting out by students & fans is childish! Enough of the whining and get on with the search for a great coach.

That'll happen, of course, but not in one day.

mlpmal writes:

in response to vol75:

Rankled? It should be a time of celebration. Kiffin is poison wherever he is. Thanks to USC for taking him off our hands. By this time next week, it will be clear that we are much better off without him....

Here here, I agree totally!!! We will be better off in the long run.

BigHornBuckShot writes:

Hamilton states, "I want someone at UT that wants to be here," Well in that case, help the players that don't want to be here anymore. The mid termers, let them go. They were only here for Kiffin. They don't want to be here. Help Brown, Oku, Teague, etc.

cryxwolf writes:

Okay, Laugh all you will, bit I say bring back Fulmer!!!!

Roanewolf writes:

Not really upset that he left, even though I was a Kiffin Supporter. A person has a right to move on if they wish. It is how it was handled. Right before signing day, calling our recruits, 30 second press conference and no questions answered. UT took a chance on him he could have at least had a little more respect for UT. I guess that is the west coast mentality for you.

gbnorth1 writes:

Those protesting Lane Kiffins resignation and screaming about his "lack of loyalty"(as well as those reporting on it) seem to over look the irony of doing so on "Phil Fulmer Way". How can any one complain about lack of loyalty when a successful,long time coach and UT grad was dumped after years of dedicated service?

How can Mike Hamilton claim any degree of integrity if he hires a coach away from another successful program while they too are attempting to close out the recruiting season? And how can UT players or parents believe in a coach who walks away from his contract at such a critical time of year?

Incidentially, I do wonder if all those students who are so vocal about Kiffins lack of loyalty will feel the same way if they are offered an opportunity to move to a "dream job" after one year of employment.

Big time College sports is a business and there is little loyalty on either side toward those who don't measure up- if Kiffin had stayed and ran up three consecutive years of 7 wins - 6 losses
you can bet Hamilton would have been under great pressure to pull the trigger - just as he did with Fulmer.

Lets hope Hamilton does not let the need
for speed overshadow integrity !He needs
to get it right this time !

Gary north
12423 Willow Ridge Way,
Knoxville,tn. 37934

how can

lifetooshort3 writes:

I for one say go Kiffin, go for your dream. Life is too short to be this petty. I understand people feeling like he betrayed them. If you had the chance to go for your dream, you would do it. UT will get over it. You could always get Steve Spurrier as your head coach, so life isn't all that bad when you think of it that way.

TIDENTEXAS writes:

As a proud Hater of all things orange. I must admit, I feel sorry for the Vol nation today. NOT!!!!!!!! Now can we have a few of those recruits? This makes back 2 back that much easier.

FromKnoxville writes:

Lane Kiffin is a young man who has already established a track record of being expedient in what he does. It will be interesting to follow his career going forward. There seems to be a total lack of integrity here. I can excuse his going to USC his "dream job." I cannot excuse his having his recruits called to tell them not to go to class. That action is what took him into the sewer in my thinking.

Some day his daddy will step aside and then he will have to fend for himself. Me thinks it won't be pretty. Also, you can be sure the NCAA is going to monitor his every move going forward.

Have fun, Lane. The world is watching and there are many who will dance in glee with every future problem you encounter. You have made your own (putrid) bed!

reddevilfever writes:

Told you last year Big O would get UT in trouble with illegal recruiting tactics. Now, sit back and wait to see what happens at UT AND USC. Boy wonder has left the hillbillies for the land of fruits and nuts. Just like Bruce Willis said in the original Die Hard, Adios ... !

LouisVol writes:

"Rankles" pretty well describes my attitude toward the whole Lane Kiffin tenure and departure. I think the thing that I've recognized about young Lane is that it has always been about him. When asked tough questions at the USC press conference -- he bragged about how much he had improved Tennessee over the previous year going from a 5-7 team to a 7-6 team (does anyone really think that Fulmer couldn't have coached that team to a similar record). When asked about Orgeron's calling recruits and encouraging them not to attend class to swipe them from UT after they had already enrolled (which demonstrated Orgeron's lack of understanding of recruiting rules) Lane said that the reporter didn't have his facts straight or that he was not informed... no blame on Lane (perhaps he should have read the sports page -- any sports page in the US could have informed him of Orgeron's activity). When asked about the people in Knoxville being upset his response had to do with his dream job and his opportunity and all about what he wanted. Somehow he forgot to mention promises made to recruits and contracts and other things of the sort -- it was all about Lane.

We're lucky he's gone. Frankly, we're lucky he left this way, because no one will want him back, ever. And, Tennessee football will go on and will do well. We will get a good coach, because there is a good coach out there who wants the job.

While there is no "I" in "TEAM", if you turn it around backwards and drop the "A" and the "T" there is a "ME" and Lane Kiffin reminds us of that.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Roanewolf:

Not really upset that he left, even though I was a Kiffin Supporter. A person has a right to move on if they wish. It is how it was handled. Right before signing day, calling our recruits, 30 second press conference and no questions answered. UT took a chance on him he could have at least had a little more respect for UT. I guess that is the west coast mentality for you.

A more moderate reaction than many on here. Still, I can surely understand why, having decided to leave, Kiffin AND the school wanted the announcement to be as brief as possible. Given the outrage evident after the news came out, a full-blown press conference with questions could have been an absolute debacle. Not all of those in attendance were accredited media, some were just outraged fans. Who is to say someone WOULDN'T have thrown a shoe--or worse--at him? How would THAT have looked on national TV? As bad as the whole situation was, it COULD have been worse and we should be glad it wasn't.

Southland writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor kissed up to Kiffin all season long and apparently his bones lie more than they are correct

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features