There’s been a veritable avalanche of head-slapping, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring headlines generated by Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee Volunteers this year - and it’s still four months before his first season even starts at UT.
This time, it’s not ripping his shirt off, or falsely accusing other coaches of recruiting violations, or telling recruits they’ll pump gas if they don’t play for him. No, instead it’s merely losing nearly a dozen players already. Wait, WHAT?!
A total of 11 Tennessee players with scholarships have left the Volunteers football program under new coach Lane Kiffin, including four since the end of spring practice.
A team spokesman confirmed that wide receivers Ahmad Paige and Tyler Maples, offensive guard Darris Sawtelle and quarterback B.J. Coleman have left the program since the team’s Orange and White scrimmage game on Apr. 18.
You might recall that one of these players was Demetrice Morley, who was cut after missing multiple practices to attend the birth of his child. Morley was probably on his way out anyway, so it’s not quite the PR disaster that the headlines made it out to be.
Still, that on top of the fact that four players have left in the last three weeks alone would seem to indicate a seriously troubling exodus. Yes, these are the same guys who were part of a positively listless 4-8 team last season and Kiffin needs to “change the culture” or whatever. Doesn’t matter.
Games aren’t won with just the starting 22, after all. Every man in uniform is important, in terms of depth, knowledge, and leadership. If Kiffin keeps running off players that he doesn’t like, he’s going to have an awfully hard time finding enough to put together a winning program again.