Kiffin Meyer

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.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press

Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.