No sooner had Lane Kiffin told the media assembled at the press conference announcing him as Southern Cal's new coach how good it was to be home than the media -- one characterized by UCLA Bruins fans as radically pro-USC, for whatever it's worth -- turned on Kiffin and held his feet to the fire, asking him follow up after follow up to the question of whether Ed Orgeron had attempted to empty the cupboard at Tennessee before running out the door.
His initial response:
I don't know that that's accurate.... I don't believe that has happened. I've told Mike Hamilton I will not recruit the players that go there unless they call me.
"Unless they call me" is the ultimate out, of course, because you know they will. But it turns out that calling recruits during a dead period is actually permissible as long as you only call them once. And there's no real prohibition -- other than that of ethics, integrity, and good taste, of course -- against talking to the commitments of the school you just left.
Regardless, a few minutes later, the media beat Orgeron into submission and got him to concede that he had in fact made some calls:
Yes, I did call recruits to clear up any questions they had. In my knowledge, I followed the rules correctly.
Forget for a moment the question of whether an outgoing coach should recruit the players he'd been recruiting for his former employer to his new school. Like it or not, that's permitted, and because it's permitted, many, if not most, probably do it. The key question on that is why employment contracts don't prohibit such behavior, but that's a question for another day.
But definitely not cool -- and against the rules to boot -- is calling players enrolled at your current school to recruit them to your new school. According to GVX:
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said rules stipulate that "An institution cannot contact a student-athlete enrolled at another institution without permission from the current school. A currently enrolled student-athlete who transfers must sit out a year before becoming eligible to compete. An enrolled student-athlete is one who is officially registered and enrolled in a minimum, full-time program of studies in any quarter or semester of an academic year, as certified by the registrar or admissions office, provided the student was present at the institution on the opening day of classes."
You see, Orgeron did that, too. Oh, he hasn't yet admitted it, saying he "[wasn't] going to get into it." Oh, yes you are, Coach, because we have evidence.
Again, according to GVX, Jeff Bray said his son, Tyler Bray, was in a room Tuesday when Orgeron offered USC scholarships to a group of players enrolled at Tennessee via speaker phone. Apparently, a bunch of the players responded to Orgeron with anger. Good for them.
What will happen? Who knows? There seem to be other, more pressing NCAA issues at Southern Cal, issues that have been cooking for years but for some reason refuse to come to a boil, so chances are the NCAA will do nothing about this. But it is becoming increasingly clear that Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron have done the impossible and further sullied their respective reputations.
Southern Cal's athletic director, by the way, "[doesn't] even want to get into it", "it" being Orgeron's calls to UT enrollees.
Too late, Mr. Garrett. Too late.