Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is never far from the headlines, even when it’s unintentional. So it goes with this story about his last-minute pitch to South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery. Deliberately holed up in a hotel on the eve of signing day by his coach, Jeffrey listened to desperate pitches from South Carolina, Tennessee and Southern California.
The one-time Southern Cal commit ultimately chose South Carolina, but not before Kiffin pledged “that if he chose the Gamecocks, he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players from that state who had gone to South Carolina.” And to that, Jeffery seems to have taken serious offense.
“He said it, but it’s not worth talking about,” Jeffrey said.
Translation — our relationship’s through, coach. Chris Low’s ESPN.com article detailing that evening finds Jeffrey’s coach much more open and diplomatic about the offending words.
“It was his last resort. That’s all it was,” said [coach Walter] Wilson, who also attended high school in South Carolina. “When you get pushed against the wall and your back is there, you’re going to come out with something.”
Don’t look for this to be a repeated pitch from Kiffin. He should know better given his recruiting reputation that pulling kids out of the South is tough, tough business. You don’t insult them, their prospects, or their states even if they are looking elsewhere. Look at the tune Jeffery’s now singing:
“It’s just what I wanted to do, stay at home and help the home school,” he said. “I started looking at it from all different angles and not just football.”
Telling a kid with that mindset he’ll just end up pumping gas is the absolute wrong path to pursue, in tone and content. In the big picture it’s not a big deal, but it’s another piece of the Lane Kiffin puzzle and a funny anecdote from the recruiting trail.