Lane Kiffin: ‘I have tremendous respect for what Urban Meyer does’


Based on where the “relationship” between Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer was when the two were coaching in the same conference in 2009, the quote in the headline is a borderline miracle, a veritable “dog marries cat” bromance on the verge of a full-blown bloom.

In his lone year at Tennessee in 2009 before bolting for his current job at USC, Kiffin was famous — or infamous, depending on your point of view — for nipping at the heels of the SEC coaching hierarchy, especially Florida’s Meyer.  The public sniping between the two reached a boiling point when Kiffin accused Meyer of cheating in the recruitment of a player who still signed with the Vols and continued to the point where conference commissioner Mike Slive had to step in.

That was more than two years ago and, my, how the times have changed.

First, during the whole Bret Bielema/Meyer recruiting flap earlier this month, the new Ohio State head coach acknowledged there’s been a 180-degree turn in his relationship with Kiffin, with both apologizing for what Meyer described as “very childish and egotistical” behavior.  Now, it’s Kiffin’s turn to acknowledge it’s nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows between the two.

“Yeah, I’m glad Urban and I are where we are in our relationship. When you’re young, you make some mistakes,” the now-36-year-old Kiffin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding the then-33-year-old Kiffin. “We’ve moved forward from that. Who would’ve guessed we are back at battling each other for recruits even though we’re a long ways away? I have tremendous respect for what Urban Meyer does.”

Despite the new-found maturity in his advancing age, the “old” Kiffin just couldn’t help himself when it came to being asked about UT’s first loss to Kentucky in 26 games last year and how the blame game had moved on from him to his successor Derek Dooley.

“Are you sure I didn’t get blamed for the Kentucky game? I’m sure somebody somewhere blamed me for that,” Kiffin told the AJC with a laugh.

“After we left two years ago, and I don’t remember the timeline, there were some floods in Tennessee. So people around here were joking that was my fault — that there were floods there.”

There it is, Lane.  Don’t lose the smarmy entirely; a little is quite endearing, actually.

Then again, when you have an on-field situation like you do at USC — expected to enter the new year deep inside the Top Five of the preseason polls — you don’t really have to swim the same verbal sewers and the gutters Knoxville Lane did, regardless of how much “maturing” has taken place over the past couple of years.

Brother of five-star recruit walking on at Florida

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Surely this is all a coincidence and not at all a way to gain a recruiting advantage, but junior college linebacker Umstead Sanders will join the Florida Gators as a walk-on player this year. The Gators do have a need to boost the depth at linebacker, so the addition of a junior college player is a quick and easy fix to address that concern, but there is a little more to the story here. Sanders is also the older brother of Trey Sanders, a five-star running back in the Class of 2019 from Bradenton, Florida.

Umstead Sanders announced he will be joining the Florida program with a message on Twitter over the weekend. He will do so as a preferred walk-on, which will likely lead to him landing a scholarship later this year. Sanders is expected to enroll at Florida this summer, so he is not around for spring football practices already underway in Gainesville. While the addition of a 6′-2″ 240-lb linebacker is nice, the whole thing smells like a package deal pitch to lure Sanders’ younger brother into the program down the line.

Package deal commitments and recruiting strategies have long been a part of the game, so this would hardly be anything new if there is a wink and nod to the recruiting efforts going on at Florida. There are no recruiting rules that could prevent Florida from offering a scholarship to a junior college player with the hope of landing his brother in the next recruiting cycle. Other schools have gone so far as to hire the fathers of certain recruits to hopefully gain an advantage, and making sales pitches to high school teammates and family members with scholarships involved has been a trendy technique some schools have put to good use.

Dan Mullen certainly knows what it takes to revamp the Florida program, and taking advantage of all the recruiting angles he can is fair game.

Louisville and UCF line up future home-and-home series

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Former conference foes will be getting together for a reunion of sorts in 2021 and 2022. Louisville and UCF have agreed to a home-and-home series in those years.

Louisville will host UCF on Sept. 18, 2021. The Knights will host the Cardinals in the second game of the home-and-home scheduling agreement the following season on Sept. 17, 2022.

Louisville and UCF have met just once before, and it came as conference foes back in 2013. Blake Bortles and the Knights pulled an upset on the road against Charlie Strong and Teddy Bridgewater, 38-35, which gave the Knights the path to an American Athletic Conference championship in the first season of the conference’s existence. UCF went on to beat Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and Louisville ended the year with a Sugar Bowl smackdown of the Florida Gators. After one year as conference foes, Louisville left the AAC to join the ACC and the two schools have not crossed paths since.

The addition of the UCF series will nearly complete Louisville’s nonconference schedule in both seasons with just one vacancy to fill each of those years. Louisville will open the 2021 season in Atlanta against Ole Miss. The Cardinals also continue their regular season rivalry with Kentucky of the SEC in each season. Louisville will also play South Florida in the 2022 season.

Despite the argument from the AAC that it is a power conference, the scheduling of UCF does not satisfy the ACC’s power conference scheduling requirement for its members unless an exception is made. Of course, Louisville playing Kentucky annually meets that requirement.

The addition of Louisville in 2021 and 2022 will ensure UCF will face at least one power conference opponent on an annual basis through 2025 as the future schedules currently show. UCF will play North Carolina and Pittsburgh this upcoming season, Stanford and Pittsburgh in 2019, North Carolina and Georgia Tech in 2020, Texas in 2023, and North Carolina in 2024 and 2025.

Transferring Michigan WR Maurice Ways lands at Cal

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Nearly four months after leaving Ann Arbor, Maurice Ways is set to settle in on the West Coast for the next step in his collegiate playing career.

On his Instagram account Sunday, Ways announced that he has decided to transfer to Cal.  On November 29 of last year, the wide receiver took to the same social media website to announce his transfer from the Michigan football program.

As a graduate transfer, Ways will be eligible to play for the Bears in 2018.  The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

A three-star member of the Wolverines’ 2014 recruiting class, Ways was rated as the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Michigan.

In 25 career games, the former Detroit Country Day high schooler caught eight passes for 71 yards.  Ways started two of those contests, with both of those starts coming during his redshirt freshman season in 2015.

Central Michigan adds former Oregon State interim coach Cory Hall to staff

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After coaching the second half of the season for Oregon State in 2017, Cory Hall is now making his way to the MAC. Hall has officially been added to the Central Michigan coaching staff, where he will serve as the team’s secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator.

“We brought Cory in, and he made a presentation to the defensive coaching staff,” CMU head coach John Bonamego said in a released statement. “(Defensive coordinator) Greg Colby and the rest of us were impressed with his preparation and what he had to say. “There is no doubt he is a high-energy coach, and he’s a great fit for our program.”

Hall was named the interim head coach at Oregon State midway through the 2017 season following the removal of Gary Andersen. According to The Oregonian, Hall did not interview with new Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith to remain a part of the Beavers coaching staff in 2018.