When I reluctantly read this article today, it bothered me. At first I thought the reason it bugged me was simply because I dislike Lane Kiffin. Any one of his quotes at this point have the ability to really get under my skin and I was sure that was the case here. That was until I remembered something Joel had written a while back.
It's time to look to the future, and obsessing about Kiffin merely gives him power over us he does not deserve. I for one intend to deny him that.
This made me feel better for a minute, remembering that Kiffin is going to be Kiffin, and getting upset over something he says is pretty useless. However, even after I reminded myself of this fact, the article still bothered me. What I hated was the fact that the whole story of his departure and the ensuing "riots" showing the ugliest side of our fandom kept getting retold. Then it hit me.
If theres one thing I learned about Lane Kiffin's coaching philosophy its this: Everything traces back to recruiting. Everything.
By having his wife Layla go on HBO and talk about, in explicit detail, the nature of the threats she received the night that Kiffin took the job at USC, immediately the perception of his departure is changed. Suddenly the story isn't about how Lane skipped town in the middle of the night leaving about 100 college athletes who trusted him and millions of fans who wanted to believe in him. He and his family are the victim.
Side note, I am in no way condoning or trying to say in any way that taking another job is more offensive than death threats to a family that did nothing to hurt anyone, and I'm not claiming that we as Tennessee fans are victims of anything.
What I'm trying to point out is that none of this stuff is new information. Kiffin was telling the world about this months ago. Why go onto a premium cable program and retell this story months later? Whats the point?
If you're ever stumped by something Lane Kiffin related, just remember that all roads lead to recruiting.
No... you don't think Kiffin would leverage threats on his family for a simple "Tennessee fans are insane rednecks" pitch with a kid who's trying to choose between Tennessee and USC, would you? In a heart beat.
I wouldn't be shocked if he used this to recruit against the entire SEC. One of the top selling points to playing in the SEC is the passion and excitement of the respective fanbase. Kiffin has some ability now to flip that passion on its head.
Thats what ultimately bothered me about this piece. The fact that it can be used to take what was basically a few hundred students acting like college students and call it a riot, (surely no one in LA would react this way) and to take what is the extreme minority of a fanbase and use it to try and associate our institution with the worst side of humanity.
This could be all speculation on my part. Maybe Lane Kiffin simply was being begged by HBO to do this piece and he was just being gracious with the media... but I doubt it.
With Kiffin its always about what he can gain... and 11 times out of 10, that goes back to recruiting.