College Football: Kiffin jokes about following the rules
ATLANTA ó Leave it to the often outspoken Lane Kiffin to add an unexpected topper to an otherwise predictable question-and-answer session with fans.
Kiffin, the first-year Tennessee coach, and Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer visited Atlanta on Thursday to preview the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The coaches traded compliments before Kiffin drew a laugh when asked by a fan what has been the biggest challenge of his first year as the Vols’ coach.
Said a smiling Kiffin: “Following all the rules.”
Kiffin later told reporters he felt the interview session had become too stale.
“I thought you guys were getting bored out there,” he said. “We were answering everything politically correct so I gave you something. … You need something to talk about so I was trying to help you.”
Tennessee confirmed last week the NCAA is looking into the activities of the university’s Orange Pride student ambassador group in recruiting.
Kiffin said Thursday he is “very confident” the NCAA’s inquiry will reveal no rules violations by his staff.
Female members of the school’s Orange Pride ambassador group traveled nearly 200 miles to a high school football game where three players are being recruited by Kiffin’s staff.
Kiffin says the NCAA has interviewed Tennessee recruits but has not contacted him.
He compared the interest in the investigation of the ambassadors, sometimes referred to as hostesses, to the NCAA’s review of the recruitment of freshman tailback Bryce Brown, who was cleared before the season started.
“It’s something that happened a while ago. It didn’t just happen,” he said of the latest inquiry.
“My understanding is they’ve questioned a number of players around the country that we’ve been recruiting. I’m very confident that it will come back very similar to the Bryce Brown situation, come back that there was no wrongdoing from my part or the staff’s part.”
Tennessee has been found guilty of six secondary rules violations in Kiffin’s first year, leading some to suggest rival schools are reporting the violations. Kiffin on Thursday tried to clarify his recent comment that he views such acts from other schools as a compliment.
Kiffin said he believes his staff is “operating at such a high level in what we’re doing in recruiting … I said I take that as a compliment if people are coming after us, OK?
“I took it as a compliment because I think people come after you when you’re on top.”
Added Kiffin: “I’m sure some of that stuff has made people more apt to try to find us doing things wrong or turn us in.”
He promised to cooperate with the NCAA inquiry.
“I’ve not been contacted at all nor has any of our staff been contacted about the hostess situation,” he said. “We’ll cooperate with whatever is needed and I’m very confident that our staff has been very thorough in what they’ve done.”
Tennessee (7-5) earned the bowl bid by winning four of its last five games. No. 12 Virginia Tech (9-3) closed the season with four straight wins.