How Low Will Kiffin Go?

Embarrassing the institution he is working for must not be enough for head coach Lane Kiffin. Now it seems, he must add the embarrassment of his own student athletes to the mix. The University of Southern California (USC) has issued an apology letter to the University of Florida and others for wrongful accusations of tampering with a prospect. Is there any doubt this was another Kiffin blunder?

In a letter sent to the University of Florida on Wednesday, USC apologized for accusations made by freshman football athlete Dillon Baxter. According to an ESPN report on June 11, Baxter made claims that representatives of five programs contacted him shortly after public sanctions were announced for the Trojan program. The ESPN report listed Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Washington, and Fresno State as programs that were contacted by Baxter.

A day later, reports surfaced that Baxter lost his cell phone and tracking the allegations was going to be a little more difficult. Most everyone could see where this was going.

Now, the USC Athletics Director had to issue an apology to Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley for wrongfully accusing Florida and at least Alabama as well for any wrong doing in this situation.

"I have spoken with Mr. Baxter and he has now confirmed that he did not receive a call from your institution," USC AD Mike Garrett wrote. "Therefore, USC has no intention of pursuing this matter further. I apologize for any inconvenience or embarrassment this matter has caused you and your institution."

Lane Kiffin was never named in any of the dealings with Baxter or USC, but this wouldn't be the first time he has been a part in a forced apology for slandering another institution or fellow coach.

Shortly after Kiffin's only national signing day as the head coach of the University of Tennessee, Kiffin lambasted Florida head coach Urban Meyer for "cheating" when recruiting prospect Nu'Keese Richardson. Kiffin, while gloating about stealing a Florida commitment, rattled off to a video taped fan meeting that Meyer and his staff were making illegal phone calls to Richardson while on a recruiting visit to Tennessee. Never thought of as someone that knows the rules, Kiffin was wrong in this particular assessment of the rules and had to publicly apologize for the mistaken claim.

This wasn't the last time Kiffin and company would be accused of not knowing and/or following the rules. Several violations of the minor type turned up under his one year watch at Tennessee, but none so famous as the hostess gate fiasco that had NCAA compliance officers racing to seven different prospects around the country to see just how far Kiffin and company would go in the recruiting wars.

A New York Times story cited the use of coeds traveling across state lines sometimes to help promote Tennessee to prospects. It was another black eye on a program that had stayed relatively clean over the years until Kiffin's arrival.

And now this. Using a student athlete to try and soil the name of rival institutions. What about the embarrassment that Baxter must be going through right now. He was recruited by those coaching staffs and from previous stories written, he respected those staffs and the way they recruited him.

It is no wonder that Kiffin is losing more and more players to transfer ala the NCAA transfer rule allowing juniors and seniors in a program to transfer to another school and play without penalty if a school is placed on probation covering the remainder of their time on campus.

So far junior defensive end Malik Jackson has transferred to Tennessee, junior linebacker Jarvis Jones has transferred to Georgia, junior linebacker Jordan Campbell has transferred to Louisville, and junior college transfer linebacker Glen Stanley is looking at Florida State among other schools and opt out of his letter of intent with the Trojans.

To top it off, the Trojans just released the nation's top recruit in offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson from his letter of intent. Henderson's family was quoted in saying that they were told the sanctions at USC were not going to be that demanding on the program when they decided to sign with USC well after signing day. Now of course, the story is different.

It wouldn't be the first time Kiffin has pulled the wool over the eyes of prospects or players and as Baxter probably found out, it wasn't the last. It isn't enough to embarrass himself, Kiffin now seems to be using his own players to do his dirty deeds.

Not the kind of man I would want to play for, and it seems a lot of others are opting out as well.


Fightin Gators Top Stories