McElroy: Kiffin departure: vitriol and class

Jack McElroy

A few days after the Lane Kiffin debacle, I got a call from Robin Kiffin, his mom and Monte Kiffin's wife. She was very upset by a sentence in a story about reaction to her son's departure:

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

"I cannot believe any reputable paper would put that sentence in there," she said. "It is beyond my comprehension. That is like a terror threat. It's cannibalistic and evil."

The line was actually the name of a Web site that had been created after Lane Kiffin announced his departure. Writer Scott Barker quoted the title to demonstrate the level of vitriol being directed at the coach. I think the example was used appropriately, and the newspaper certainly didn't endorse the sentiment.

Robin Kiffin's call was a reminder, though, of the collateral victims of collective rage. She said her daughter-in-law received some 1,200 hateful e-mails after the announcement.

"All the threats they got, they had to take the children and leave the next day," she said. Robin would have left then, too, but had dogs she couldn't abandon. She waited for a friend to drive from Tampa to help her make the move.

The Kiffin women weren't necessarily keen on moving, anyway. Robin Kiffin said they both had worked extensively to decorate their homes in Knoxville and had gotten involved in the community.

"Layla's done the soup kitchen, and the little girl was in school," she said. "My husband gave up a great job in Tampa. This was a very hard move. I thought we were going to be here for life."

Before the announcement, "My excitement of the day was reading the newspaper." Seeing in the News Sentinel a Vol fan declaring intent to kill her son and eat her granddaughter was disturbing, to the say the least.

Well, now that a couple of weeks have passed, it's instructive to look back on our community's reaction to Kiffin's abrupt farewell.

What was all the furor about?

True, the sudden "I'm outta here" was a violation of many implied promises, to fans and athletes alike. But, in the context of big-time college football, what's to be expected?

Big Orange fans had gloried in the coach's determination to get teenagers to break their promises to other schools and "decommit." Was it such a surprise that Kiffin decommitted himself?

Then, within hours of his "betrayal," the University of Tennessee was hard at work trying to persuade some other coach to abandon his ship in the midst of the recruiting storm and take Rocky Top's helm. Derek Dooley did, leaving Louisiana Tech the next victim of the musical deck chairs.

Granted, Kiffin's brief tenure was particularly classless but not out of character. Should we say the same about our own community reaction?

In the end, I liked Gov. Phil Bredesen's take on it the best. He is pushing a plan to make UT one the nation's top 25 research universities by adding 200 scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to the faculty. The proposal has been called an economic "game changer" for Knoxville.

Bredesen described Kiffin's goodbye as "a blip on the radar."

"So somebody quit and went," he said. "Big deal."

No cause for cannibalism? That is class.

Jack McElroy is editor of the News Sentinel. He may be reached at 865-342-6300, at editor@knews.com or through his blog, The Upfront Page at http://blogs.knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 61

mountainbrook writes:

She shouldn't have raised such a skank of a son if she didn't want to hear things like that.

By the way...Lil Lane has apparently picked up his first secondary violation at USC.
http://www.faniq.com/article/Lane-Kif...

OrangePsyched writes:

Obviously there shouldn't be any threatening tones about anything like a coaching change, but it is ok to vent. The thing is the columnists that criticize us are also leading us on the feeding frenzy. If the paper would let it go already things might calm down, but they heap coal on the fire with their articles. Start interviewing the players here for stories when slow and quit going back to the Kiffin angle.

OldSmokey writes:

Just like KNS to write about something negative, when we need something positive for the this football program. This is the only newspaper I know of that writes sh!! like this, when they know we are trying to turn things around!

OldSmokey writes:

If this is the type poop you are going to keep writing, I'll start following Wes Rucker from the CTFP! He seems to be the only one that can keep us up to date on the situation at hand. And not write bad things about the University! You might want to think about hiring him!

http://www.timesfreepress.com/staff/w...

bluetick writes:

Didn't I read this a week ago?

txsvol#372416 writes:

in response to OldSmokey:

If this is the type poop you are going to keep writing, I'll start following Wes Rucker from the CTFP! He seems to be the only one that can keep us up to date on the situation at hand. And not write bad things about the University! You might want to think about hiring him!

http://www.timesfreepress.com/staff/w...

No, leave Wes where he can do exactly what he is doing, and look to both sites for stories. SAVol

ClassicVol (Inactive) writes:

The whole country is telling us to get over him. I think we are...it's the KNS's love affair with him that has us looking bad.

tensie2004 writes:

Kiffin deserves every bad thing that comes his way dealing with sports. He and Coach O are real slime dogs and probably raised that way.

forkball writes:

The fact that the families felt threatened is very unfortunate and is not indicative of the way people are treated here. As a Tennessean, I am embarrassed and apologize to both Mrs. Kiffins. The fact of the matter is Robin, you failed miserably in teaching your son morals and integrity and his high profile occupation spreads the spotlight to his family, for better or worse. The world is full of Lane Kiffins, we just don't hear about the total lack of ethics they display everyday of their lives. I would be humiliated if my son grew up to be that type person and everyone that watches ESPN knew it, but that goes with your territory. We all reap what we sow and your crop has come in.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Ms Kiffin, just keep eating your bon-bons and any memory of Tenn will soon go away.

Get a 11 x 14 of Orgeron and that will help you take your mind off your son.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

in response to OldSmokey:

If this is the type poop you are going to keep writing, I'll start following Wes Rucker from the CTFP! He seems to be the only one that can keep us up to date on the situation at hand. And not write bad things about the University! You might want to think about hiring him!

http://www.timesfreepress.com/staff/w...

NO! I live here in Chattanooga and love reading the sports page everyday. Notice how many of his articles get on here?

ric1958 writes:

Never liked him never will......glad he is gone. But regardless of how classless he is we dont need to lower ourselves to his level. 99.9% of Vol fans are the best fans in the world, the other .1% need to give it up. When I saw Kiffins address and his wifes cell number on Facebook and other websites I thought, I hope nobody calls that number, because we are better than that. Let`s show the rest of the world that we are the best fans in the world.

Classof72 writes:

The behavior of fans and media is predictable; a more mature coach could have handled the transition better. In retrospect, the fans should have thanked him for what good he did, shaken his hand, waved good-bye, and, under their breath, whispered, "Thank God, he's gone."

Let's learn a lesson and treat our new coach and his family in such a way that, no matter what happens, he and his family will always be able to say, "The Vol fans treated us better than anyone else in our lives."

jcvol#215939 writes:

Please let's look forward and support Derek Dooley and the future of The Volunteers!! PLEASE

volsfan74 writes:

I will be the first to say that the title of the website was gross and uncalled. With that said Robin Kiffin and the entire Kiffin clan can kiss my A**! The classless actions of her son and his staff should shame her and Monte.

GerryOP writes:

Sooo, mama Kiffin had to call and complain about how her son lil' Lanie is being treated? Now we're getting to the root of the problem here.

volky writes:

in response to no_excuses2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just curious, were you fully on board the Lane Train? If you were, would you have been pushing so hard to have the DA investigate whether Mr. Kiffin had broken any laws? I doubt it. I really do not understand the continued vitriol that is being spewed toward the Kiffins almost two weeks after he resigned. It is comments like this that gives the national sports media credibility when they portray VolNation as a laughing stock.

volzcrushm writes:

What lil lane did is as classless as the title the kiffen girls are complaining about. So girl, how do you propose to fix it all???? What can you do to end the hard feeling your you idiot lane created?? ....UT has moved on but, the stinch of LK lingers.

volky writes:

in response to Classof72:

The behavior of fans and media is predictable; a more mature coach could have handled the transition better. In retrospect, the fans should have thanked him for what good he did, shaken his hand, waved good-bye, and, under their breath, whispered, "Thank God, he's gone."

Let's learn a lesson and treat our new coach and his family in such a way that, no matter what happens, he and his family will always be able to say, "The Vol fans treated us better than anyone else in our lives."

Amen!!!

MoralVictory writes:

I understand her confusion..Her son was a world class turd while coaching at UT and after he screwed the UT faithful..he is still a world class turd. Robin raised him she knows nothing changed. The only difference is now Tennessee now knows but then again Tennesseans have always been a little slow on most issues. Give the lady a break..Layla too..they decorated their homes afterall..(with UT's money)

jzt writes:

I agree with Robin Kiffin's statements about eating the children, it has no place in a newspaper article. But this no loyalty move should not be a surprise to anyone in orange, look at how Lane was raised. Moving from town to town following his dad from NFL job to NFL job. Nobody has to tell the Kiffins that this is a business, it it just new to the UT faithful. Dont blame him at all for wanting to leave for USC, (doubling his salary, don't have Fla. or Bama on his schedule every year) his is leaving for an easier job that pays better. The only problem I have is that he could have handled it better, he doesn't need our recruits at USC. He has told everyone how great UT is except the recruits. If he would have explained his feelings at his so called press conference and stood up like a man and explained why he was leaving, it would have made for a better exit.

Psychovol writes:

This is what happens when you raise an entitled narcissist with no conscience. His antisocial traits and self serving ways are directly related to the parenting he did or didn't receive. He's a reflection of you Robin and you should be embarrassed and ashamed.

Vols789 writes:

If Mama Kiffin could get Daddy Kiffin to be a Father and cut the embilical cord that connects father to son in this case he may become a man. Maybe Daddy should have stood up and said I stand by my committment and I am staying at Tenn. Father and son have no class, same for Coach O.

GaGATOR writes:

I'm sorry, that comment was totally classless.
Tell Kiffin what you think, just don't scare his family that had nothing to do with that brat's departure.

GaGATOR writes:

in response to Psychovol:

This is what happens when you raise an entitled narcissist with no conscience. His antisocial traits and self serving ways are directly related to the parenting he did or didn't receive. He's a reflection of you Robin and you should be embarrassed and ashamed.

I like it, but are you talking about Kiffin
or OBAMA-nation?

kd45music writes:

It sounds like mom Kiffin is in denial about her poor excuse for a son. I am glad he's gone, never wanted him in the first place, and here's hoping if he ever sets foot in the state again, it's to get his butt whipped by the Vols in Knoxville. I'm confident he'll get his comeuppance one day.

volatil writes:

We're over DALK,DAMK,DAEO. Now please talk about OUR school and OUR coaches!

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

Glad you didn't abandon the dogs.
Truth be told, the only 100% innocent victimes in the entire sad saga.
Jerome

OrangeVeins writes:

in response to PRNDL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, but Dooley told his players his decision before he told anyone else...THAT'S CLASS!!! So different...he DID NOT do the same thing the other coach had done!

TrueVol70 writes:

I don't see poor Robin moaning over her husband taking the $300k on his way out the door. I guess she saw that as another character lesson for li'l Lame.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to forkball:

The fact that the families felt threatened is very unfortunate and is not indicative of the way people are treated here. As a Tennessean, I am embarrassed and apologize to both Mrs. Kiffins. The fact of the matter is Robin, you failed miserably in teaching your son morals and integrity and his high profile occupation spreads the spotlight to his family, for better or worse. The world is full of Lane Kiffins, we just don't hear about the total lack of ethics they display everyday of their lives. I would be humiliated if my son grew up to be that type person and everyone that watches ESPN knew it, but that goes with your territory. We all reap what we sow and your crop has come in.

Hear hear! Good Post!

BreatheUT writes:

in response to PRNDL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm not justifying making those types of threats but there is a big difference between Dooley and Kiffin and I'm sure there are more than these.

1) Kiffin had been at Tennessee one season and did not leave this program better off because he never went through a full recruiting season. Dooley stayed at La Tech for 3 seasons and put the program on solid footing.

2) Kiffin less than 14 months earlier proclaimed this to be a premiere job he wanted which was a joke after also at least pursuing the Arkansas and Washington jobs. Everybody in La Tech land knew Dooley was waiting on an SEC offer.

3) Kiffin and his pet ogre tried to recruit UT commitments on his way out the door. Dooley left La Tech's commitments alone even the top couple that could possibly play in the SEC.

4) Kiffin's departure was classless and fly by night. Dooley's departure from La Tech was regrettable and thankful.

5) Tennessee entrusted Kiffin and his band of bandits with the biggest recruiting budget in college football to bring in highly rated players. La Tech's recruiting budget is small potatoes.

The return we got from Kiffin and the bandits was like robbery compared the time and money we invested in their deceit from a violations and recruitment. Then Monte banks the $300K and Lane saves $200K in his buyout. Hindsight being 20/20, we would have been better off if Kiffin was never hired when seeing the current the perspective of how he and the ogre has tried to destroy our recruiting class.

Coach Dooley brings class and integrity back to Knoxville, and its my belief UT will win big in a couple of seasons but we have to be patient because of the recent setback.

True_Vol writes:

PLEASE KNS LET IT GO. NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT LYING LANE ANYMORE.

snuffysmiff writes:

Well, well, looks like Mama Kiffin can't trust her son either. She thought they were gonna be in Knoxville for life. Either she isn't up on the game or she has been lied to by her son and husband.
Having said that though, I am certainly not condoning threats and nasty e-mails to someone's family no matter what they've done.

uwishuwereassmartasme (Inactive) writes:

Is the elder Mrs. Kiffin so ignorant that she does not recognize hyperbole?

Volmania writes:

Even though this quote was an example of what "someone else" said, you should have picked another quote instead of such a shockingly graphic one. That is just classless to put that even as a quote in the paper. I don't care if we hate the guy. You are a newspaper company that should find a cleaner quote to give to the general public. Bad choice on picking this one. I think Mama Kiffin is right on this one.

USNVOL writes:

Vol fans,will you join me in sending an email to the editor of KNS, Mr. McElroy ?
editor@Knews.com

If all of us would send a email to Mr.McElroy asking him to get his writers to quit adding fuel to the kiffin fire,maybe there will be less kiffin on the govolsxtra site.
Most fans on this site have ask them ,but they are still writing about him.
Maybe they will listen to the man that they work for?
I just sent mine.

ncvol17 writes:

with the addt'l 300k Monte got at YE, he could have leased a moving van and drivers to pack you up and move you to LA..too cheap to let go of a little of UT's bonus cash?

cloudodust writes:

in response to True_Vol:

PLEASE KNS LET IT GO. NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT LYING LANE ANYMORE.

When I want a dose of the Kiffin poison, I go to USC websites and blogs. Ya'll go check them out sometime as 2010 unfolds...

forkball writes:

in response to kd45music:

It sounds like mom Kiffin is in denial about her poor excuse for a son. I am glad he's gone, never wanted him in the first place, and here's hoping if he ever sets foot in the state again, it's to get his butt whipped by the Vols in Knoxville. I'm confident he'll get his comeuppance one day.

He would have gottten his butt whipped by some Vols in Knoxville if Kippy Brown hadn't stopped them.

VOLinAthensGA writes:

She should be apologizing for raising a child who couldn't be trusted by thousands and thousands of the greatest fans that make the Big Orange Nation that gave them nothing but their pure loyalty and support. I would feel bad for USC if I didn't despise them as much as the Kiffins. They belong together. Now we need to beg Hamilton to do everything in his power to get USC on our upcoming schedule. Then we can settle this properly.

newtonrail writes:

in response to jzt:

I agree with Robin Kiffin's statements about eating the children, it has no place in a newspaper article. But this no loyalty move should not be a surprise to anyone in orange, look at how Lane was raised. Moving from town to town following his dad from NFL job to NFL job. Nobody has to tell the Kiffins that this is a business, it it just new to the UT faithful. Dont blame him at all for wanting to leave for USC, (doubling his salary, don't have Fla. or Bama on his schedule every year) his is leaving for an easier job that pays better. The only problem I have is that he could have handled it better, he doesn't need our recruits at USC. He has told everyone how great UT is except the recruits. If he would have explained his feelings at his so called press conference and stood up like a man and explained why he was leaving, it would have made for a better exit.

Having almost two weeks to think about it, I still think Lane and the Rajun Cajun are scum in their actions. The rest of what you said I pretty well agree with. No one, even Kiffin, should have been threatened. I wasn't aware the elder Kiffin's ever moved from Tampa. In fact, I'm pretty sure they didn't. They might have gotten a Condo or something, but that last day interview that Monte did on radio, talked about his wife commuting to LA from Tampa, and the $64 flights from Tampa to Knoxville. Monte was "old line" enough to have the guts to call in to talk show, when requested. Lane's exit and stealing recruits is inexcusable, but if I threatened him, I'm the 1% who would get prosecuted.

gwbask writes:

in response to TrueVol70:

I don't see poor Robin moaning over her husband taking the $300k on his way out the door. I guess she saw that as another character lesson for li'l Lame.

I agree. Her comments would carry alot more weight if she could talk Monte into returning the money.

drummerman11 writes:

Cry me a river Mama Kiffin!, he told us he was going to be around for a long time TOO!!

VolWoman writes:

On no, Mrs. Kiffin Sr. You may not be so happy with that media in LA. They won't cover up all Lane's imperfections the way the media in an SEC town will. If he messes up in a game, they're going to be mean to your little boy.

I think Monte and his wife probably would have preferred to stay here. I never expected their son to coach more than 4-5 years here before moving to a PAC 10 school. If we had continued to recruit well (and stayed off probation), I would have understood him leaving but his timing was disgusting here. That is what good parenting would have taught him. He screwed the fans and that's ok but what he did to the players is unforgivable.

That said, I think Coach Dooley is salvaging a good recruiting class without all the fanfare and I'm delighted to have him and his family here.

jcp201 writes:

I am thrilled with Dooley and never liked KIffin anyway. Good riddance. I wish the paper would catch a clue and let it go.

pms151 writes:

Even a word in this POS rag trying to offer any support to that family is an insult to any true fan. Whoever started that website can send my family the seconds. We will relish them with joy. I think I speak for the majority of the Vol Nation, Mr. editor, not you. You are only a Haslam slave just like Mike Hamilton.

oldorange writes:

I enjoyed the football year of 2009. I enjoyed reading about the energy of the coaching staff. Like everyone else, I felt a bit betrayed when Kiffin split. However, I quickly tempered my feelings by knowing the Karma will visit Mr. Kiffin sooner or later. I felt releived after listening to the new coaches introductory presss conference....We'll see.

537081 writes:

Yes Mrs. Kiffen I feel your pain. I am a retired Postal worker myself. I get up in the morning feed the cats and grab the Chattanooga paper. After I read it I go on line to Knoxville News Sentinal site and futher injoy the sports news. Your son and husband,after being backed to the hilt be me split and left MY football team in a real bind. So Mrs. Kiffen "Bring on the dead babys".

Vol737 writes:

I believe the sentence or website Robin Kiffin is referring to should have just been left alone and not repeated or reprinted. Garbage like that needs to remain in the garbage can. As one that was on the Lane Train, I still was concerned all along about how much trouble we were headed for with possible NCAA violations among other things. While I have an issue with apparent lack of commitment and ethics, I don't blame someone for operating within the four corners of his contract, exercising his buyout option and moving on to what he considers his dream job. The fact of the matter is that Hamilton didn't hem CLK in tight enough with a much bigger buyout. It's just business! I do believe we'll be better for it in time. Sorry if the link below has been posted but it's a good read.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

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