A book devoted to recent SEC national champions still had room for Tennessee football. Fans can thank Lane Kiffin for that.
"How the SEC Became Goliath," is the title of the book, which chronicles the conference's ascent to preeminence in college football. Former Knoxville sportswriter Ray Glier, who now works as a freelance journalist, features each of the conference's six consecutive national champions (2006-11).
But he also includes an entire chapter on former UT coach Lane Kiffin's brief, but determined, attempt to put the Vols back among the league's elite programs.
"The real hook for me (on Tennessee) was that it's an incredibly competitive conference, and people will stretch rules to win games," said Glier, a former executive sports editor of the Knoxville Journal. "I think he's a great coach. He's a great play caller. What was going on in the SEC (in 2009) with three consecutive titles made him more ambitious."
A series of emails from an anonymous UT employee to former athletic director Mike Hamilton reflected how ambitious, Glier said. One of the emails, which Glier obtained, questioned the videotaping of voluntary workouts in the early months of Kiffin's tenure at UT.
According to the book, the email to Hamilton read: "When the team is working on the defensive end of Haslam Field, someone is set up in the stairwell in Stokely (Ath
letic Center) with a camera. They film from inside the stairwell through a glass window across the street. It just raises the question, 'If filming these workouts is permissible, why not use some of the towers (on the practice field)? Why hide it?' "
Hamilton didn't respond with an email, Glier said.
Glier quoted another email from an anonymous UT employee to Hamilton: "I hope you budgeted extra money for defending (NCAA) violations."
The name of whoever sent the emails to Hamilton was redacted, according to Glier.
An NCAA investigation of UT's football program turned up no major violations — just a number of secondary violations under Kiffin, who took the head-coaching job at Southern California after one year at Tennessee.
"I wanted to show the passion (of SEC football) and what teams go through to win a title," Glier said. "Also, I think (Kiffin is) a great coach. He was on his way (at Tennessee) but he was taking some short cuts."
Glier closed his chapter on UT and Kiffin with this: "If not this season, then one season soon, Kiffin will get a chance to show the SEC, after all the rigmarole, that he was not just talk, that he may be the next great coach in college football."
Glier's book will go on sale in the next two weeks.