In the Harry Potter novels, Voldemort is also known as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
In Tennessee Volunteers football lore, Lane Kiffin equals Lord Voldemort.
The Vols’ controversial ex-coach infamously ditched Knoxville after a single season for the posh, golden coast of Los Angeles, and the head coaching job at the University of Southern California.
Even in his lone season, Kiffin managed to cause controversy with false and thoughtless remarks, famously accusing Urban Meyer, University of Florida’s head coach, of NCAA violations.
In reality, it was Kiffin who blatantly committed multiple NCAA violations, largely the result of his mouth—more specifically, the words he would inanely spew.
Once Tennessee and the fan community finally mustered the willpower to briefly pause their anger at Kiffin and bid him their coldest wishes goodbye, the university hired Derek Dooley, the former assistant under Nick Saban, to the head post.
Many Volunteers fans naturally hoped for improvement not only on the field, but also in the public image of the Tennessee football program. Frankly, fans desired a coach created in the opposite mold of their former, loose-lipped, one-season blunder of a leader.
One would think that the Vols’ new coach would recognize the special situation that landed him the job and ensure the demonstration of one fundamental, contrasting quality—freedom from foot-in-mouth disease.
Alas, Dooley chose to strangely equate his struggling team to the Germans during World War II, specifically at the Battle of Normandy.
"Right now we're like the Germans in World War II, all right? Here come the boats. It's coming. The binoculars, like, 'Oh my God, the invasion is coming,'" he said.
Dooley’s comments alone are inoffensive, but his choice of words are just plain bizarre.
Using war or disaster metaphors alone is bound to offend someone, but using any comparison to Germans—Nazi Germans to be exact—in any context is downright questionable and foolish.
An overwhelming majority of people worldwide, including those in modern Germany, abhor those Third Reich Germans. In fact, the old swastika flag-flying days of yore serve as a period of absolute embarrassment and shame for Germans now.
Must we keep alluding to them?
The Volunteers currently stand at 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference under Dooley’s watch.
To judge Dooley’s coaching prowess at this point is ridiculously premature, especially because the university hired him under unusual circumstances without appropriate notice.
Thus, the jury is still out on Dooley’s coaching ability.
However, Dooley’s verbal gaffe certainly does nothing to diffuse the bad publicity Tennessee had to endure under Kiffin’s short-lived tenure. Nor do his words serve as encouragement for a team struggling with a depleted lineup. If anything, they only brought negative attention and acted as an unnecessary distraction—something a coach should not introduce to the team’s playbook.
These remarks likely rest as a case of a former attorney’s poor closing argument and do not foreshadow a growing similarity between Dooley and Kiffin.
Hopefully, Dooley will use a less controversial source like Harry Potter—to make a comparative reference in the future.
On the other hand, Halloween is just around the corner. Perhaps the lingering spirit of Lane Kiffin decided to pull one last haunting in Tennessee.