If Lane Kiffin has any regrets regarding his time at Tennessee or the many toes he stepped on by leaving after a single season… he isn’t showing it. Speaking to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Kiffin laughed off the amount of blame and bile fired in his general direction by still-angry Volunteer fans:
“Are you sure I didn’t get blamed for the Kentucky game? I’m sure somebody somewhere blamed me for that.
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.
It is what it is. I still have a number of people I stay in contact with there at Tennessee. I know this: I did everything the right way there, as you can see what came out of the NCAA’s investigation. The goal was to make Tennessee better every day. That’s what we strived to do every day we were there … to build confidence in our players and our fan base, and recruit really good players.”
Kiffin has shown at Southern Cal that he can coach football. But his decision to return to LA after a year in Knoxville decimated the Tennessee roster leading to back-to-back years of roster attrition (following the ouster of Phillip Fulmer the year before). He may be able to laugh things off at this point, but his departure from UT set the Vol program back at least a year or two in its attempt to rebuild.
Tennessee — a staple of the national Top 10 throughout the 1990s — has not won a conference championship since 1998. And whether he likes it or not, Kiffin can rightfully be blamed for helping to keep the Vols in the bottom half of the SEC the past two seasons.