January 15, 2010
One (hopefully) final observation about this week's l'Affaire de Kiffin in Tennessee: The initial shock and outrage proves again how much more college football fans -- and SEC fans, especially -- deeply care about their team. Much like Alabamans staking out the airport for Nick Saban's arrival (or for Gene Chizik's), no other sport in America* could produce anything like the raucous scene on Tennessee's campus Tuesday night over a coach leaving for another job, especially a new, not-particularly-beloved coach who was a borderline hire in the first place and had been responsible for far more petty embarrassment than wins. It would be like Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans storming team offices over Rahim Morris taking the Bears job or something, which is not conceivable. In Tennessee, they take this stuff personally.
Hell, if it's bad enough, sometimes they even take it religiously:
I think we have an early candidate for the American Dialect Society's "Word of the Year" for 2010: Kiffin [kif-FIN]: One who acquires and quickly abuses everything he desires, only to acquire more; charlatan. (See also: Salesman, Snake Oil.) See? Tennesseans are more than capable of contributing to the culture of letters when properly motivated. And man, are they motivated right now.
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* I would not extend this statement to soccer/football fans outside of the United States, whose clubs often drive them to criminal insanity. Photo hat tip: SBN