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.