Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Kiffin Double-Cross

I am not your typical female. I love football. I don’t go to games to watch cute quarterbacks in tight pants. I go to watch a 6-foot-4, 258 pound inside linebacker bust the chops of the other team’s quarterback. Low scoring, defensive games are my favorite. I know nickel, dime and quarter packages have nothing to do with the concession stand, man to man is not a serious conversation between two guys, and the wildcat is not a mascot. I actually believe in the 12th man and take credit for several false starts caused by my loud yelling. When I watch football at home, I am a horrible hostess. I leave most of the other women in the kitchen and I hate to talk during the game. I do like to chat during halftime if there is not another game worth watching. My husband does not have to be around for me to watch football. I am perfectly capable of yelling at the Refs on TV all by myself. When it gets close to Christmas, there is a great mall on the way to the hotel after the game. It is awkward at times, but I can’t help myself. It is my father’s fault. He was a high school football coach and I was an only child.

I realize College Football is not the normal theme of this blog, but today it weighs very heavy on my mind. I have lived in Tennessee all my life. To the dismay of many in my home town, I am an Alabama fan. I dislike Tennessee, Florida, LSU… well basically all other teams in the SEC. This has been a phenomenal season for my team. After years of disappointment, I finally watched my Crimson Tide win the National Championship. I was on cloud nine until the Lane Train crashed in Knoxville Tuesday night. I kept asking myself, “why care? Shouldn’t I relish in the pain of my rivals?” Instead of thinking about all the recruits UT will loose, I found myself posting tirades on Face Book until after 1:00 am. I felt bad for Tennessee, all my friends that are fans, and most of all the players. Eric Berry, a Tennessee defensive back, was asked recently in an interview whether he was pulling for other SEC teams to win their bowl games. "You would rather beat up your brother than have him get beat up by somebody else," he said. "I'm rooting for all SEC teams.” That is exactly how I feel about Lane Kiffin. Tuesday night, he sucker punched one of my brothers.

I never liked Lane Kiffin and I think most of my Tennessee friends really didn’t either. They wanted to love him, but knew deep down he did not understand Tennessee Football. I can’t blame them. I was in the same situation with Bama a few years ago. What do you do when your AD makes a ridiculous hire? Kiffin could not grasp recruiting rules, why did anyone think he could understand Big Orange fans are not interested in being the USC of the South. Peyton Manning is UT’s idol, not Reggie Bush. Lane might have thought we were gullible, but no one really believed his verbal spews were part of a master plan to get UT back in the media. They were embarrassing and childish. He was tolerated because there was hope he would learn. His top 40 debut was also a farce. Did he really listen to Lil’ Wayne’s lyrics? The rapper was not paying him a compliment. Maybe top USC fan, Snoop Dog, will help Lane’s recruiting in Southern California by adding a few lines to his next single. I can hear it now...

Aint nothing like the Lane Train baby...
N-C- double A sanctions like crazy...

I am sure it would be a hit.

Kiffin did not put Tennessee back on the map as he claims. The map never changed. Sure, Tennessee is not the team it was in 1998, but it is still one of the top programs in the nation. We should have all seen the writing on the wall. He cared nothing about our traditions, the people, or our love of football. It was always about him.

This year, at the Alabama/ Tennessee game in Tuscaloosa, I watched Ed Orgeron lead the Tennessee team out on the field. After the entire team was already on the sidelines, I noticed Lane Kiffin standing alone at the back of the tunnel. He then casually jogged out on the field all alone. I remember thinking to myself “What an ego maniac.” Contrast that with Alabama’s pre-game ritual. Who brings the Crimson Tide out on the field before each game? Nick Saban. I am sure Phillip Fulmer always did the same.

In college, I wrote a paper about southern football and how our obsession could be related to our loss in the civil war. Sound crazy? I got an A+ from my Yankee professor who actually made copies and passed it out to the entire class (it was the only time this happened in my college career.) Anytime you mention the Civil War, people think of race, but that had nothing to do with my paper. In fact, we all come together in the south on football Saturday. The gist of my paper was something like this: southerners are incredibly proud individuals who take great pride in being better than the rest of the country in anything, no matter how small or insignificant. It is true. We love to run it up the gut on Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan, and USC. We are arrogant football fans who enjoy pointing out our conference has won 6 of the 12 BCS Championships.

Think about it: we are constantly insulted by southern stereotypes (and unfair sports writers). Say the word “Tennessee” and many think of barefoot hillbillies, carrying a shotgun and drinking moonshine. Say “Alabama” and it even gets worse. People actually believe our intellect is determined by our dialect. I have news for you... I met a guy from Maine in college and I couldn’t understand a word he said. It was if he was speaking a foreign language. Call it an inferiority complex, but we love being the underdogs who sneak up and bite your rear end. It is in our genes, it is how we have been conditioned through relentless ridicule. The funny thing is we really don’t care what they think. We know what we believe and why we believe it. No one is more comfortable in their own skin than a southerner. The older I get the more I love our part of the country. I am thankful I never enrolled in that speech class in college to get rid of my accent. I want everyone to know when I say I am from Cleveland, they know I don’t mean Ohio.

I believe our anger stems not from Lane Kiffin leaving, but they way he made us feel. Tennessee fans greeted him with open arms and he repeatedly slapped them in the face. Most great football coaches have one thing in common. They give praise to the players for making great things happen. As I listened to Kiffin’s USC press conference Wednesday night, he basically took personal responsibility for everything positive that happened at the University of Tennessee last year. I would like to ask him who was responsible for the drugs, attempted robbery, a 7-6 season, a loss in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and a NCAA investigation. It was never about you Lane. It was about the University of Tennessee and the Southeastern Conference. The real loser is USC. They just lost Pete Carroll, heavy NCAA sanctions are near, and they are stuck with their sixth or seventh choice that can’t seem to keep his mouth shut.

I am a southern Methodist, but I do believe in Karma. It will be best if Kiffin never crosses the Mason- Dixon Line. In the next few years, Kiffin will get Tennessee in the news once again. We will all be talking about how Tennessee dodged a bullet and USC is once again searching for a coach. Tennessee will be fine. It will take them several years to get back on track. In the meantime, Alabama or any other SEC school would love to play USC in a Championship or bowl game. Of course, it all hinges on whether Southern Cal is put on probation. No matter what team it is, you will hear the chant S-E-C loud and clear. Lane, we will all remember what you did to our brother. Good riddance, but not good luck.


Clay said...

That is a tremendous piece. The opening paragraph was really cool too. Nice.

mdcampy said...

Got to admit - NEVER thought I'd read a piece put out by an Alabama fan, but I love the way ou put US as your brother! Thank you!!!!! You gave me chills reading at the end. I too am a woman who loves sports -- ANY sports -- but especially football. My husband calls me a rare breed! Glad to know I'm not alone. Go VOLS and GOOD RIDDANCE LANE

Christin said...

Wow. Absolutely amazing...perfectly articulated. I'm putting a link to this on my own blog. Everything you said was exactly right. I'm a Vols fan, but I was for sure screamin' "Roll Tide" for the Championship. SEC brothers for sure!

Brick said...

Amazing article. I think you articulated, in a respectable mannor, how all Tennessee fans feel towards Lane Kiffin. Look forward to reading more pieces by you in the future... even if you do like Alabama.

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