Even 2,000 miles away, Lane Kiffin still feels Tennessee’s hatred

Dr. Saturday

For as much as people despise Lane Kiffin, he's always been known for his sense of humor.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kiffin acknowledged the hatred many Tennessee fans still have for him after their breakup two years ago. And even though the spotlight shifted to current coach Derek Dooley after the season-ending 10-7 loss to Kentucky — the first loss to the Wildcats since 1984 — Kiffin still thought the ire of Tennessee fans might still be heading his direction.

"Are you sure I didn't get blamed for the Kentucky game? I'm sure somebody somewhere blamed me for that," Kiffin told the AJC with a laugh.

"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."

Can you blame Kiffin for thinking everyone in Tennessee hates him? He didn't exactly leave on a high note and while he was there, he didn't endear himself to his fellow SEC coaches, including then-Florida coach Urban Meyer. Kiffin and Meyer were battling over the same recruits and after Kiffin managed to score Nu'Keese Richardson, Kiffin quipped to a group of Tennessee supporters that "I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him."

But apparently, Kiffin has turned over a new leaf and he and Meyer, who is now at Ohio State are so close they're just short of each having a half of a best friends broken heart necklace.

"Yeah, I'm glad Urban and I are where we are in our relationship," Kiffin tld the AJC. "When you're young, you make some mistakes. We've moved forward from that. Who would've guessed we are back at battling each other for recruits even though we're a long ways away? I have tremendous respect for what Urban Meyer does."

For the record, Meyer told CBSSports.com, "I was very childish."

Love him or hate him, Lane Kiffin continues to evolve. While his Tennessee antics were just two years ago, the past couple years have shown that he's matured to an extent. Perhaps that's because he's stayed out of trouble with the NCAA while having to deal with sanctions that were not of his doing.

Kiffin has the chance to bring USC back to the promised land in 2012 with a strong group of returning players and several potential contributors coming in. I wonder, if Kiffin wins the national championship at USC will Tennessee fans blame someone else for allowing him to leave Knoxville? Eh, probably not.

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