The Brave New World
During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. – George Orwell
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. – Aldous Huxley
I don’t know all the Tennessee history and tradition with all the matchups, nor do I ever intend to… There’s a lot of great teams in this conference, but I told (players) that, to me, this is the biggest matchup. To me, because of what we need to do in recruiting, this (the Georgia game) will be the biggest matchup for this staff and for our team. – Lane Kiffin
Coach Lane Kiffin made that statement in a post-game press conference, chronicled by Wes Rucker of the Chattanooga Times Free Press where he explores Coach Kiffin’s post-game comments regarding Georgia being Tennessee’s biggest rival. Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution did the same.
What is noteworthy is a comment posted to Mr. Rucker’s article: ”Wow. This just shows what Kiffin cares about. Not the University, not the players, but how he looks in recruiting.”
How he looks in recruiting. Hmmm. Now why would that be a bad thing?
Senator Blutarsky over at Get the Picture has a beef with this post-game comment – it would have been more impressive as a pre-game comment he argues. The Senator then has a go at what the comment actually means, writing: “How weird is that rationale, anyway? I thought a program recruited to win games. The Laner wins games to recruit. Maybe he’ll give his program a trophy the year Rivals ranks his recruiting class #1.”
Ahhhh, I see. People think all of this is some kind of narcissism, not about wins and losses.
The arrival of Lane Kiffin brought a different “style” to the Tennessee athletic deptartment. At first blush, I wasn’t happy with the bravado. As a Vol fan for a very long time, I am of the generation that responded to the type of humbleness Johnny Majors exhibited in 1977 when he came to save the Vols from potential oblivion. When asked if he could win another national championship soon for the Vols as he had done with Pitt the previous season, Majors responded, “I’m a hard worker, not a miracle worker.”
Fast forward. In comes a very young coach with a very, shall we say, direct style. Easy to dislike. Thus, easy to be critical of the message and the man.
Based on an inside source (a booster at the university), Kiffin spoke with high-level boosters of the program before he spoke with the press and issued a statement that the room full of tried-and-true orange bleeders found disturbing. Distasteful. He basically told them that the Vol program had slid into the depths of irrelevance due to outdated thinking. With all due respect to the school and its traditions, thinking that it’s about wearing the orange jersey, that it’s about representing the university, is thinking that will send you to the bottom of the standings.
Kiffin told them that today’s young footballers are mainly interested in getting to the pros. And they will make their choice of school based on the chance it could give them of someday playing in the NFL rather than the color of the jersey or the academic institution it represents. Speaking to these boosters, the young coach said that Tennessee has top rated facilities, training staff, equipment, etc., etc. But had third-rate thinking. Whether you like it or not, he told the money-changers that it’s not the landscape you remember.
He was telling those boosters that it is a new day in college athletics – for today’s young recruit, the University of Tennessee is a means to an end. It is not an end. We are here to be used. And we need to find the very best who want to use us.
My contact said that Kiffin really didn’t care what the reaction of the boosters was going to be. As George Orwell once said, when people have been deceived for a while, telling them the truth is a revolutionary act, and he knew it. And he knew that the Tennessee football program needed a revolution. And Lane Kiffin was ready to lead that revolution.
One thing is for sure. Kiffin’s selection of Georgia as a battleground (and our biggest “rival”?) for this revolution makes strategic sense: (1) the state produces a large number of highly prized recruits every year, and (2) he can win that battle. Find something worth fighting for, and pick on someone your own size.
It’s going to take new (and perhaps undesirable to some) methods to continually maintain visibility with one goal in mind – to attract the best athletes to UT. And when that happens, winning will follow. So, if it’s about Kiffin today, it’s going to be about winning tomorrow.
Yes, the Laner does win games to recruit. But he also recruits to win games. It’s a two-sided coin.
You can’t have one without the other.
What They’re Saying
Mike Strange of GoVolsXTRA.com looks forward to the second half of the season and concludes that 5 of the last 6 games are winnable.
Joel over at Rocky Top Talk gives some fun post-Georgia-game awards.
Joel also is campaigning for Montario Hardesty to win the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back. I am down with that.
Chris Lowe at ESPN has Tennessee rated #8 in this week’s SEC Power Rankings. The rest of the Vols’ conference schedule has them facing schools rated #1 (Alabama), #4 (South Carolina), #6 (Ole Miss), #10 (Kentucky), and #12 (Vanderbilt). Georgia dropped to #9.
Mr. Lowe also names Jonathan Crompton as the SEC Player of the Week. I’ll bet nobody made any money on that bet – who would have taken that? Even with, oh I dunno, 5000:1 odds?
Saturday’s act of Tennessee transforming the Bulldogs into lovable puppies has the ‘Dawgs faithful in quite the tizzy. T. Kyle King has so much hand-wringing on display that I actually am starting to feel sorry for them. Except that he says that the Vols are a terrible football team (not my emphasis – T. Kyle added it), and that simply stated, the Vols suck. I guess that means I missed the memo that Georgia transferred out of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A). I guess that means we should have won the game 73-3 if we were a half-decent team (my emphasis), or maybe 94-3 if we were a really good team (again my emphasis). Seriously, people actually care in this conference (my emphasis again), which is why I love the SEC.
Quinton McDawg over at the Georgia Sports Blog says that he can’t recall a more devastating loss since Richt took over. Welcome to the revolution. The revolution will be televised (my emphasis).