What is an Incident?
Yesterday we reported on the shoplifting charge handed to Vol freshman Nyshier Oliver for his alleged attempted to steal a shirt from a Knoxville store on the afternoon of November 7 before the evening’s game against Memphis. In our article, we restated questions posed by Will over at RTT – three important questions that pointed directly at the credibility of Lane Kiffin’s previous statements:
- When did Kiffin find out about this?
- Did Kiffin know about Oliver’s situation on November 11, during his weekly teleconference, when he recounted Tennessee’s spotless record in terms of no arrests, etc?
- Is it possible that Oliver kept it quiet because he wasn’t arrested, only cited, and Kiffin didn’t find out until later?
Dave Hooker’s article posted this morning on GVX indicates that Kiffin knew about Oliver’s shoplifting citation the day it happened. Hooker reports that UT spokeswoman Tiffany Carpenter confirmed Wednesday morning that Oliver wasn’t allowed to dress for the Memphis game and also was punished internally.
When Kiffin was asked about the arrests of Nu’Keese Richardson, Mike Edwards, and Janzen Jackson in last week’s robbery fiasco, which occurred five days after the alleged shoplifting, the Vol head coach stated, “We made it 11 months and 11 days without any incidents.”
So, Kiffin knew about Oliver’s citation when he made his now-famous 11-month/11-day statement.
That means either (1) the Nyshier Oliver shoplifting citation, delivered by an officer of the law, is not an “incident”, or (2) something else.
Since I’d rather not get into (2) at this stage of the game, we now have a new question: What is an incident?
This morning’s article by Knoxville News Sentinel Staff posted on GVX indicated that on Wednesday morning during a radio interview Kiffin chose to emphasize that Oliver was not arrested.
I see. Incidents are arrests. Shoplifting citations are not incidents.
My point has nothing to do with whether or not Nyshier Oliver is guilty of shoplifting. You can read Hooper’s exposé on Tennessee law over at RTT.
What this addresses is the credibility of our head coach and his statements. We are now starting to dip our toes into the murky, and potentially slimy pond of using words to potentially mislead and then obliquely defining them after an incident event calls them into question.
Lane Kiffin is a very young head coach in a very high visibility program. He is learning on the job. He should be allowed to. He will also make mistakes. He should be allowed to. But when he does, he needs to be accountable for them. He should not be afraid to be truthful explicitly. We should embrace that, even if that truth may seem at the time to give the school a black eye.
In the long run, complete transparency will be beneficial.
Right now, character and credibility are being tested under the hot lights that shine 24/7 in Knoxville.
I’m watching and I’m listening.