Knoxville—Football's favorite whistleblower is at it again.
Tennessee Volunteers head football coach Lane Kiffin announced earlier this morning that the Oakland Raiders (who Kiffin coached in 2007 and part of 2008) are guilty of multiple recruiting violations, and intend to commit more infractions this week.
"I have it on good word that scouts within the Oakland Raiders franchise plan on meeting with several collegiate players in the coming days at something called 'The NFL Combine,'" said Kiffin, speaking at a school-sponsored breakfast. "It's inappropriate for the Raiders to try and steal players from the college ranks, and I hope the NCAA looks into these violations and acts accordingly."
Kiffin said Oakland scouts have specifically targeted wideouts Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin, as well as outside linebacker Aaron Curry. He said the Raiders plan on speaking with all of them over the next week, even asking them to run respective 40-yard dashes so scouts can collect data on their physical health and abilities.
"If the Raiders can talk to these players, what's to stop any NFL team from plucking players from the college ranks?" said Kiffin. "I'm very interested to see how the NCAA handles this news."
"Not a college team"
Shortly following Kiffin's accusations, the NCAA issued a statement, although it probably wasn't what Kiffin was looking for.
"The Oakland Raiders are not a college team, and it is impossible for an NFL team to commit recruiting violations," said NCAA spokesperson Steven Johnson in an email sent to all major media outlets. "What Mr. Kiffin is referring to is the NFL Combine, which is an opportunity for teams to look at former collegiate athletes in preparation for April's NFL Draft. The combine and draft happen every year, and the players involved no longer play for college football teams."
When asked if he was surprised by Kiffin's remarks—especially since Kiffin used to coach in the NFL—Johnson shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, a college coach claiming the NFL draft is illegal—that's definitely a first," Johnson said. "But this is Lane Kiffin we're talking about—the sky's the limit."
NCAA officials have grown all too familiar with Kiffin's "interpretation" of NCAA guidelines since he took over as Tennessee's head coach.
Kiffin made headlines last week when he mentioned highly coveted prospect Bryce Brown by name on a radio station—a direct violation of NCAA rules. Earlier in the month, Kiffin accused Florida head coach Urban Meyer of "cheating" when Meyer called prospect Nu'Keese Richardson while Richardson was on his official visit to Tennessee. It turns out calling a recruit during a visit to another campus isn't an infraction, and Kiffin later apologized.
Still pressing his case
But despite popular belief that the NFL Combine and NFL Draft are longstanding and legitimate events, Kiffin isn't dropping his accusations just yet.
"The bottom line is, I'm sure the Raiders would like to see any of these college stars in silver and black, but teams have to play fair," said Kiffin. "I'd love to see top recruit running back Bryce Brown commit to Tennessee, but I have to play by the rules. I know I can't call Bryce Brown when he's visiting another campus (editor's note: he can), and I know that I can't mention Bryce Brown by name on a radio program (editor's note: he can't, but did). Rules are rules."
Note: Portions of this article (including all the quotes, premise, and identity of the NCAA spokesperson) are fabricated. Some of it, believe it or not, is actually true.
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