Reaping Kiffin's mistake

If it wasn't for Lane Kiffin, Clemson fans would only cheer once a year for Tajh Boyd.

Almost a month to the day after Boyd, then a senior at Phoebus High School in Hampton, Va., committed to Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer, the longtime Volunteer head coach was fired.

Despite the change in leadership, Boyd still wanted to call Knoxville home.

Boyd told InsideTennessee on Dec. 2, 2008 that he was eager to meet Kiffin, who had just been hired as Fulmer's successor. A day later, Tim Boyd said his son was href=http://recruiting.scout.com/2/817921.html>no longer committed to Tennessee.

"I spoke to coach Kiffin. He told me that they would honor Tajh's scholarship but he wouldn't be their guy," Tim said. "Coach Kiffin doesn't think Tajh is his type of QB and he wouldn't fit his style of offense."

The elder Boyd added, "Tajh felt like he had to de-commit because he felt that if he went through with his commitment, he wouldn't really be wanted. It wasn't a hard choice to make.

"If Coach Kiffin wanted him there, Tajh would be there. He was solid."

As it turned out, Kiffin wasn't solid with his commitment to Tennessee. Just over a year later, he bolted from Knoxville after this infamous press conference.



By then, Boyd was getting ready to start his redshirt freshman season at Clemson. That was almost four years ago.

While there's no debating that Boyd is happy with his decision to attend Clemson, being told he wasn't good enough still chaps his behind.

Tennessee fans don't like it either.

"Tennessee fans hit me all the time…my twitter, somebody tweeted at me -- maybe the alumni board or something," Boyd said. "‘Two of the biggest mistakes in Tennessee football history: firing Fulmer and not taking Tajh.'"

Boyd tends to agree. But that's water under the bridge, well, for the most part.

"I've been blessed so much. This situation couldn't have worked out any better -- Tennessee, Oregon, Ohio State -- Clemson just happened to be the perfect fit," Boyd said "I felt I had to be here for a reason."

Any athlete that's ever been told they're not good enough can understand why Boyd might still a little perturbed with Kiffin, why there could be an inkling of ill will towards the USC head coach.

In an effort to gauge where just how Boyd felt about Kiffin after all these years, the question was posed after Tuesday night's practice.

If you saw Lane Kiffin, what would you say to him?

"That's a good question," Boyd said. "I saw [Mike] Hamilton, the AD, the one that told me Fulmer was staying."

Boyd paused, smiled and said, "If I saw Kiffin, I would say, probably, ‘Hey, man, I hope you have a great day.' That's probably what I would say."

"Because -- I would hope -- deep down inside he just knows," he said, before trailing off.

The last few years have gone pretty well for Boyd. They haven't been quite as nice for Kiffin, who recently received the dreaded vote of confidence from USC athletic director Pat Haden.


Tajh Boyd was a five-star prospect coming out of high school in 2008.
Just over a week ago, Haden said, "I anticipate the media will ask me if our football coach is on the hot seat this year. Here is my answer, and it will be my answer whenever I'm asked: He is not. I'm behind Lane Kiffin 100 percent. I have great confidence in him.

"He's a very hard-working, detail-oriented coach. He's a dynamic play-caller in my estimation, and he's an exceptional recruiter. He knows USC and he knows what it takes to be successful here."

We'll find out just how serious Haden is about those words if USC has a season similar to the 7-6 finish in 2012. Kiffin is 25-13 during his three seasons with the Trojans, the first two of which the program was on probation as a result of the Pete Carroll era.

So, if you're a Clemson fan, it might be nice to return the favor pull for Kiffin this season. He's already done you a solid.

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