Some new head coaches come in to a job, make positive changes in the football program, and enjoy a rewarding season filled with humility and class and wins. Lane Kiffin isn't one of those coaches.
As soon as Kiffin was hired at the University of Tennessee, he began making splashes taking innocent jabs at rival Florida. Before long, however, his jabs became more like weekly nuisances, spotlighting UT not so much for the talent of the football team, but the mouth of its coach.
Some said what Kiffin was doing was really no different from what current South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier did at Florida as head coach. Spurrier was often known for quips regarding SEC opponents. The difference between him and Kiffin? Spurrier had a dominating program built before he started smack talk.
Of course, it's what the SEC thrives on: swagger based on traditions and conference glory, one unrivaled by any other conference. However, when your team is coming off an embarrassing 5-7 record from the season before and your coach is slamming opponents before the orange-white game is even played, you can't help but begin rolling your eyes at the mere mention of anything Kiffin.
Certainly not all of the down points of this season for UT can be Kiffin's fault. The mind-boggling arrest of two players for attempted robbery with a (pellet) gun isn't a Kiffin issue, it's a dumb "think I'm entitled to be a moron because I'm an athlete" issue. But the recruiting violations that cropped up involving "hostesses" and the other numerous secondary violations incurred by Kiffin are, indeed, his cross to bear.
Then you have tonight, where Tennessee not only looked flat in near every aspect of the game, but were helped by head-scratching playcalling by their coach, kid genius Lane Kiffin. With roughly six minutes to go in the first half driving on their own 35, Kiffin decides to run on 3rd and 13. Then in a UCLA-game-esque move, on 3rd and 23 with 10 minutes to go in the game and playing down by 10 close to midfield, Kiffin runs it.
Call it dumb decision making if you want, but it showed that Kiffin obviously doesn't completely trust his QB Jonathan Crompton. The curious thing is, he's defended Crompton all season even after horrendous games early on.
So alas, the season ends with an ugly 37-14 defeat to Virginia Tech, a team that while certainly talented, should not be 23 points better than Tennessee.
And to top it off, Kiffin spends all of a half second speaking to Frank Beamer in the postgame handshake.
Perhaps once Kiffin tastes a bit of humility, he can gain composure and stop the snarky one-liners and let the game on the field do the talking for him.