Tennessee Volunteers' Lane Kiffin Laying Solid Foundation Despite Losses

tre wellsCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2009

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Construction workers pour concrete as the roof goes on the new Papakura rMulit Sports centre in Central Papakura, Wednesday.  (Photo by Nigel Marple/Getty Images)

With a record of 2-3, Tennessee Volunteer’s head coach Lane Kiffin has yet to secure his first major win of the season.

That’s especially disparaging in the SEC, where you can’t afford to wait until mid-October to put a mark in the conference win column.

Despite the close scores of the Auburn and Florida games, it is arguable that Tennessee was never in position to win either one of those.  There are the two wins against less-than-stellar, programs in Ohio and Western Kentucky, and then a loss to UCLA in which Tennessee had every chance to win, but failed to close the deal.

At this point, there are some who wonder if Kiffin was the right man for the job.

Yes, five games into the season, critics love to mock Kiffin’s overall record, and again point to his brashness when repeating that he “hasn’t won anything yet”.

The same people, however, that hopped on the “Urban (Meyer) will run it up on Kiffin” bandwagon seemed to have become real quiet lately.

The media that constantly referred to Urban calling timeouts to rub it in on Georgia’s Mark Richt, never did a follow-up piece, after the Tennessee game chronicling just how far off-base they were.

The “hate affair” that critics have with Kiffin is similar to a narrow-minded political view, where a voter may scan several pages of political promises and find the one that hasn’t been kept.

Critics continue to refer to those remarks made by Kiffin when he was first hired.  Why?  Where is their new material?

I can only imagine it is because there isn’t a whole lot of meat on the bone to pick from.

Outside of his record, many positive things have been done behind-the-scenes that are unprecedented at Tennessee.

The overall GPA of the team is at a five-year high.

There still have been zero arrests made since Kiffin’s hire.

The team is the least-penalized team in the SEC.

While the house is nowhere near being completed, the foundation is being laid, and it appears to be very sound.

Following a top 10 recruiting class last year, ESPN has Tennessee’s class ranked fifth so far for the 2010 season.

Discipline is the most malleable form of a program when a new coach takes over a team.  If you don’t make the right impression, the results can be disastrous.

The word on the hill is that, following the dismissal of TE/WR Brandon Warren for actions detrimental to the program, the team is becoming galvanized.

The type of attitude that Warren displayed will not be tolerated by the staff, and the message was sent.  Players want discipline whether they admit it or not.  They want focus, and they want structure.

They want a solid foundation.

Forget the 2-3 record, and that the house is a long way from being built.  Right now, the foundation is being laid.

And it appears to be solid.


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