The ink hasn’t even dried on Lane Kiffin’s contract with Tennessee, and he’s already embroiled in controversy at his new school. Naturally, the Ol’ Ball Coach is the one stirring all this up. Just because Phil isn’t there to kick around anymore doesn’t mean Spurrier’s going to stop giving UT the business.
Spurrier is claiming that Kiffin’s contact with recruit Jarvis Giles on Sunday violates NCAA rules because Kiffin hadn’t yet passed a required certification test that allows contact with recruits. Giles had pulled out of a verbal commitment to the Vols after Fulmer’s departure was announced, and he was reportedly deciding between Nebraska and…yes, South Carolina.
Kiffin’s contact with Giles on Sunday is clear. What’s not clear is whether or not Kiffin was technically UT’s coach at the time and whether NCAA rules allowed such a phone call. GO VOLS XTRA’s Dave Hooker had a seemingly harmless story about Giles’ conversation with Kiffin on Sunday:
“He already called me this morning at 7 o’clock,” the 6-foot, 175-pound tailback from Gaither High School in Tampa, Fla., said Sunday afternoon. “He said ‘I sat down and watched a little bit of your film online. From what I’ve seen, you’re pretty impressive.’
“He said he was going to sit down and watch some more tonight and see how I can fit into this offense.”
Spurrier saw these comments and wondered how exactly Kiffin had signed a contract and become certified to contact recruits in such a short period of time. THE STATE of Columbia, S.C., reports that it all happened awfully fast. Spurrier of course didn’t resist the opportunity to get in a verbal jab:
“You’re supposed to have passed the NCAA test and be on board, I think. But maybe he was just calling him as an interested observer,” Spurrier said today, laughing. “I don’t know. But technically to be able to recruit you’re supposed to pass the NCAA test.
“I know when I was hired, after the press conference I took the test to qualify you to be a recruiter. I hadn’t taken it in three or four years. At that time I could start making calls. I don’t know if he was permitted to make that call or not. You’ll have to ask somebody else.”
Kiffin said today during his first press conference that he had taken the test in time. A UT spokesman told THE STATE that Kiffin signed his contract on Saturday (which is a little odd, since Fulmer was still coaching the Vols that day while they played Kentucky).
Further muddying the Giles situation is the fact that David Reaves, the recruiting coordinator at South Carolina since 2006 (in addition to duties as quarterbacks coach), just resigned from his post with the Gamecocks…to join Kiffin’s staff. It just so happens that Reaves is Kiffin’s brother-in-law. In his old job, Reaves was likely heavily involved in efforts to get Giles to Columbia.
So, what is Spurrier’s motivation here? Is he miffed at Reaves for taking off and perhaps re-stealing a recruit that was originally headed for Knoxville anyway? Is he just trying to notify Kiffin of his place in the SEC pecking order?
For what it’s worth, Giles seems hesitant to come to UT unless running backs coach and recruiter Stan Drayton is retained by Kiffin. Giles has even indicated that he may follow Drayton to his next school if he’s let go by Kiffin.