Lane Kiffin To Blame for NCAA Witch Hunt at Tennessee

Joel BarkerSenior Writer IDecember 9, 2009

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 28:  Lane Kiffin the Head Coach of the Tennessee Volunteers looks on during the SEC game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I will not sit here and write baseless lies as some writers and bloggers tend to do. I do not know all the facts about "Hostess-gate" and will not pretend to know.

The fact is no one, besides the NCAA and the University of Tennessee, knows all the details of the current NCAA investigation—not some random blogger, ESPN personality, or some New York Times writer.

I will say that the events surrounding this incident are interesting, to say the least.

If you haven't heard by now, the NCAA is investigating some shady business going on with Tennessee and prospective recruits. High School players all across the south are being interviewed to find out what is really going on.

What we do know is that Orange Pride, a group of hosts and hostesses used by the athletic department to make recruits feel welcome on campus, is under scrutiny at this moment.

There are allegations that members of this glorified welcoming committee traveled over 200 miles to watch prospective recruits play. Also under the microscope is these same hostesses holding up various signs, such as "Come to Tennessee" at these games.

Why is that a problem? These hostesses are representatives of the university and it is against NCAA rules for a representative of a university to recruit off campus.

I believe this is a witch hunt, much like the Bryce Brown investigation two weeks before the first game of the season was a witch hunt.

I believe the NCAA will find no wrongdoing on the part of Tennessee, its coaches, and administrators. I think these young ladies did what they did on their own, at least I hope that is the case. 

Whether or not anything will come of this investigation, Vols fans should expect these things to continue happening, unless Lane Kiffin decides to grow up this coming offseason.

When a coach comes in with the cocksure bravado our beloved leader burst onto the scene with a year ago, you can expect people to take notice. That is, after all, what Kiffin wanted—to get Tennessee's name back in the spotlight. Mission accomplished.

If the young, immature coach had stopped there we could have lived with it. But no, he used illegal recruiting practices all offseason long. The University admitted as much when it reported six secondary recruiting violations by Kiffin and his staff.

I realize schools like Ohio State and Georgia had many more violations than that, but the coaches at those schools do not have the mouth that Kiffin has.

In light of these facts, those six secondary violations became red flags. 

If a coach runs his mouth about demanding a clean program, all the while calling out respected coaches for cheating, and he then commits a foolish penalty himself, the scrutiny surrounding his transgressions will be that much greater.

That's exactly what is going on with Lane Kiffin and Tennessee.

Vols fans, please do not start whining and complaining about the NCAA investigating. I agree it's a witch hunt and there's probably nothing to it. But there's no doubt in my mind that our coach brought this on himself.

Alabama, Florida, and Georgia are not at fault for this. A potential recruit "narcing" on the Vols is not the problem. Our coach's mouth is at fault.

Kiffin got his notoriety. He got the Vols back into the spotlight. The team is three weeks away from playing in a nationally televised, big bowl matchup with a top 15 team on New Year's Eve night. That should be enough to suit Kiffin.

It would be advised for the "Mouth of the South" to tone down his act this coming offseason. After all this, I would expect him to. I hope he has learned some things in his first season coaching in the SEC.

There's no doubt in my mind that if he didn't learn anything in his first 365 days on the job, the heat will stay on him and the program for some time.