If you were to look up the phrase “lightning rod” in a collegiate football dictionary circa 2009, there’d be a good chance you’d see the boyish visage of Lane Kiffin staring back at you.
Love him, hate him, despise him, the new Tennessee head coach has proven to be nothing short of sheer entertainment for his supporters and despicable fodder for his voluminous detractors during his ten months in Knoxville.
Since the regular season began, though, and with his team eventually toddler-walking to a middlin’ 3-3 record, Kiffin has pretty much kept his collegiate coaching precociousness to himself.
Following an offseason highlighted by charges of illegal recruiting shenanigans levied by Kiffin toward Urban Meyer and his Florida program — and a sheepish mea culpa — Kiffin has made his feelings known as to who the best team in the country should be ahead of his first showdown with Alabama.
And it’s not the program that’s been the target of his most pointed barbs and happens to reside at the top of the current BcS standings.
“I think one poll got it right,” Kiffin said, obviously referring to the Associated Press poll pushing ‘Bama over Florida. “If you watch football and pay attention, I don’t think there’s any doubt who the No. 1 team is. Alabama has a great team — very well-coached, extremely talented, great special teams, great on offense, great on defense.”
Certainly, Kiffin is being somewhat self-serving in pumping up an upcoming opponent at the expense of a previous foe he had publicly dissed. But, still…
“I think one poll got it right.”
That’s good. Damn good.
The more I hear from Kiffin, and the more I see what he’s doing on Saturdays, I’ll be damned if that lil’ ankle-nipper might not be putting together a football program whose bite can match the coach’s yelp.