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Talking points: Lane Kiffin a material mill for national media

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Lots of stuff coming at you today in this space, including a special announcement at 8:00 and the beginning of the Best Plays of 2008 series at 9:00.

Tennessee football

  • National publicity for the program continues. The LA Times includes two Tennessee games in its list of highly-anticipated contests in the upcoming season: UCLA at Tennessee and Tennessee at Florida. Credit Kiffin for that. Honestly, who would have viewed Vols-Gators as a must-watch game without Kiffin making it so?

    Kiffin's still providing material and inspiration for Spencer Hall of The Sporting News, too:
    Cuddle up with us, Lane Kiffin, so I can tell you how pretty you are, and how glad I am you're here. The SEC can get stuffy after a while, and it's nice to have a reckless, shin-kicking toddler storming around the place doing the adorable things toddlers do: sticking your finger in light sockets, calling old fat ladies fat, tattling on people even when they've done nothing wrong, and drinking whole cans of paint left too low on the shelves. It's a form of levity for me, a way of cutting the tension in this room full of coaches getting dangerously close to professional in both pay and demeanor.
    Also, two guys at CFN either list Tennessee as his first choice or includes us in a list of secondary choices in response to the question of which college football team will be the most interesting this season.

    CFN also posed the question of which among Kiffin, Gene Chizik, and Dan Mullen would make the greatest immediate impact on the SEC. Richard Cirminiello is "intrigued by Kiffin" and says that "He shouldn’t, however, be underestimated or dismissed as some wet-behind-the-ears rookie, who can easily be overlooked." Matthew Zemek uses a variety of all or nothing metaphors ("spectacularly revived" or "crash-and-burn catastrophe"; "soar or plummet"; Kiffin has created a "win-or-else dynamic") to give the nod to Kiffin. Jon Miller gives it to "Kiffin in a landslide" but in a bad way and concludes with this:
    Kiffin is a star going supernova.  At some point, that thing could be the brightest object in the solar system…getting bigger and bigger, until one day, it explodes…but you do know what comes of a star that goes supernova, right?  A very dense object that sometimes turns into a black hole.  Look it up.
    Okay, then. At the very least, something about Kiffin sure brings out the hyperbole machine.
  • Inside Tennessee continues its signee profiles with Marsalis Teague ($), who believes he'll be getting his first shot with the Vols at wide receiver. Teague spent his entire spring break up here watching practice, and Greg King ($) who "signed about a thousand autographs at the spring game."
  • It sounds like Kiffin's going to get his own rule: "don't talk bad about other coaches." Yeah, it's already on the books, but maybe they'll name it after him when they're all reminded of it this week at the SEC Spring Meeting in Destin, Florida.
  • Drew Edwards has a fantastic profile of new DB coach Willie Mack Garza, who drove to the hotel where Monte Kiffin was conducting "interviews" in front of a white board only to find that Kiffin was finished. When he finally found Kiffin, Kiffin checked back in, set up the white board again, and they "talked." Garza won the job.
  • We're in some serious trouble numbers-wise ($), especially on the lines. Tennessee's junior and senior classes are missing 20 players who signed, seven of which are a combination of offensive and defensive linemen. Expect lots of opportunities for the new guys.

Tennessee basketball

  • If the SEC wants to avoid the national disdain it suffered last year when it came time to selecting teams for the NCAA Tournament, it needs to schedule like Bruce Pearl.