published Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Knoxville: Pahokee still mad at Lane Kiffin


by Wes Rucker

Knoxville — Lane Kiffin hasn’t apologized enough to please everyone in Pahokee, Fla.

Tennessee’s first-year football coach sparked controversy with February remarks about the small South Florida town that consistently churns out top-shelf football prospects, including recent UT signee Nu’Keese Richardson.

Kiffin apologized to Pahokee High School football coach Blaze Thompson, who has said several times that he considers the matter done. School principal Ariel Alejo and Pahokee Chamber of Commerce president Lewis Pope III told the Palm Beach Post they haven’t heard enough.

Alejo asked Volunteers running backs coach Eddie Gran to leave school grounds last week, according to the Post, and he reportedly told Gran that no one from UT would be allowed on campus until Kiffin offered that apology.

The principal told the Post this week that Kiffin should fly down to Pahokee for a May 19 Student Advisory Council meeting and publicly apologize to the entire community.

“If I offended anybody in Pahokee or (anyone who) has to do with Pahokee or in the schools, I apologize,” Kiffin had told the Post after his comments from a recruiting celebration became public. “And I want to make sure it’s understood that is not what was meant by (the comments) at all. It was just an energetic breakfast with some of our donors.”

Those words didn’t satisfy Alejo.

“Coach Kiffin publicly apologized to Blaze Thompson ... but I’m still waiting, and the community is as well,” Alejo told the Post this week. “It’s what I think he owes the community of Pahokee and what he owes this school. His comments were made public, so now he needs to go publicly and retract those comments.”

Kiffin started the firestorm Feb. 4 at a breakfast in Knoxville, when he explained why UT coaches and Richardson’s family had to tread carefully after the player privately switched pledges from Florida to the Vols just before national signing day.

Kiffin said Richardson’s aunts didn’t fax their nephew’s national letter of intent from the high school because “they knew somebody at the school was going to screw it up. The fax machine wouldn’t work, or they would have changed the signatures ... you know, all the things that go on in Pahokee now.”

He told local media later that day, “You take that hour drive up from South Florida, there ain’t a gas station that works. Nobody’s got enough money to even have shoes or a shirt on.”

UT has made offers to at least six current Pahokee players, and several have said they’re still considering the Vols

about Wes Rucker...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
marc said...

Interesting that the comments instructions here note that "profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited." Think we could work that into LK's gazillion dollar contract?

May 14, 2009 at 4:21 a.m.
namvet047 said...

that is probably true about pahokee, i have been through there. people just want to get their town out in the open, thats what it's all about.

May 14, 2009 at 9:34 a.m.
moonpie said...

Wow. Did he really have to insult the whole region?

While I don't think he owes them an apology, it would be the honorable thing to do.

May 14, 2009 at 11:01 a.m.
jomo11 said...

This Kiffin is a time bomb. I predict he will have a "non-violent" Woody Hayes ending to his short career ar UTK , before he tries to bolt to the NFL in 2 or 3 years.

May 14, 2009 at 2:22 p.m.
signalmtnman said...

Kiffin did apologize for a bad joke.

Is it right for a principal to stand in the way of his student-athletes' ability to get scholarships and possibly their best way out of Pahokee? Coaches do this stuff all the time. What has Spurrier ever said good about Tennessee - and he grew up here?

How about the fact that Alejo is a Florida graduate and until earlier this week had a Gator logo on his school web page?

May 14, 2009 at 2:44 p.m.
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