Since he's so special, Kiffin needs to lose by 50.
Sixty would be preferable, but 60 could be out of the question. But 50? I bet Florida could beat Tennessee by 50. So it needs to happen.
|Lane Kiffin arrived on the scene as brash as anybody. (Getty Images)|
Kiffin needs it.
On second thought, call me a Florida homer if that's the only way you can handle an opinion like this one. I don't care what you call me, or what you would call a final score Saturday of, say, 56-3. Just know this: Urban Meyer needs to use his Florida football team as an instrument of vengeance and even an instrument of wisdom to teach the impertinent Tennessee coach a lesson he'll never forget.
Kiffin will thank Meyer later. Or not. Kiffin strikes me as a fairly smart guy, just not a very self-aware guy. So he probably won't learn the lesson from this butt-kicking that he really needs to learn. That lesson being this:
Until you've accomplished something, anything, keep your mouth shut.
Being brash is acceptable when, and only when, you have the résumé to back it up. Urban Meyer, for example, is brash. Mike Freeman is ripping him today for it, but here's my take on cockiness or conceit or any word you want to apply to Meyer, and also to Kiffin: It ain't bragging if you can back it up. Meyer has won two national titles at Florida and nearly won a title at Utah. If he comes off at times like a man who reinvented the game, well, guess what? He did. The spread offense that's everywhere in football? Urban did that. The Wildcat that's now in the NFL? The spread spawned that, which means Urban Meyer did that, too.
What has Kiffin done? I have no idea. He didn't resurrect Southern California. That was Pete Carroll, with an assist from Norm Chow. He didn't win with the Raiders. His résumé attracted the gawkers at Tennessee, but it's fake. Whether he was being pushed along by his father, Monte, or his sugar daddy, Carroll, Kiffin has carved out a career by standing on the shoulders of greatness.
But he thinks he levitated there all by himself.
So when Kiffin got the Tennessee job in late 2008, he got to talking. He mocked Florida. He mocked South Carolina. He mocked recruits who chose other schools, and he even mocked one of the most talent-rich areas -- the area near the Everglades -- in the recruiting hotbed of Florida.
Kiffin says it was all part of his plan. Since he was recruiting nationally, he needed to make Tennessee a national talking point. And in that sense, it worked. Kiffin signed one of the top classes in the country and landed the No. 1 player, tailback Bryce Brown. His abrasive methods? Intentional, he says. All attention is good attention for Lane Kiffin, which makes him the naked Wimbledon streaker of SEC football coaches.
Tim Brando of CBS delivered the best analogy since Tim Tebow's oldest ancestor crawled out of the ocean when he said, and I'm quoting Brando here, "What Lane Kiffin has done is energize the base. It's what Sarah Palin did to the Republican party."
Perfect. Palin energized the base, won eyeballs for her side, then flamed out. To this day she thinks she's a winner, and it must be nice to have that kind of clueless confidence. Kiffin has it, too. He talked to CBSSports.com college football writer Dennis Dodd in March about the series of public gaffes that put Tennessee on the national radar, and he said "this stuff was on purpose." Demeaning South Carolina as a university whose graduates pump gas was "on purpose." Calling Urban Meyer a cheater -- even if he was so wrong that he had to apologize publicly -- was "on purpose."
Sure it was.
Everyone has known a Lane Kiffin in their life. He's that spoiled little boy put on a pedestal by mommy, a silly kid who honestly believes he belongs on that pedestal. So he ventures outside and tries to bully the bigger kids because -- until that first punch hits him in the nose -- he has no idea there are consequences.
On Saturday, Meyer needs to hit him in the nose. Teach lil' Lane that there are, in fact, consequences.
You don't have to be a Florida fan to want this to happen. One of my better friends told me this week, "I hate Urban Meyer, but I hope he kicks Kiffin's ass." Even some Tennessee people know what I'm talking about. Former coach Phillip Fulmer, as loyal a Volunteer as you'll find, sounds like he's wincing when he says of Kiffin, "If you're going to be brash, you better be able to back it up."
Kiffin? Brash. One of the first things he said when he got the Tennessee job was this:
"I'm looking forward to embracing some of the great traditions at the University of Tennessee ... singing Rocky Top all night long after we beat Florida next year."
Next year is here.
Let the schooling begin.
Not that I expect Kiffin to grasp the lesson. Even as the Florida side of the scoreboard rockets toward 40, then 50, hopefully even 60, Kiffin won't get it. That's my guess. Some people simply can't learn humility, and Kiffin seems like one of them. So Meyer needs to administer this lesson not just for Kiffin, but for other coaches as well. For future coaches.
Maybe even for the brash young kid who replaces Kiffin in three years.