The Football Insider, February 24, 2009

What was that book that Hilary Clinton wrote? Something like “It Takes an Idiot to Raise the Hopes of the Entire Village”? Little did we know our Secretary of State and former First Lady and US Senator was such a devoted college football fan. And who would have dreamed that she would be able to predict the faithful in their road prison orange up in Knoxville would think the rest of the Southeastern Conference is envious when really they’re laughing themselves silly while circling whatever day it is on the calendar when Tennessee shows up on the schedule?

Up in Knoxville they think they have insight while the rest of the world is wearing bifocals when it comes to their own version of The Village Idiot, Lane Kiffin. Why even Chattanooga Free-Press columnist Mark Wiedmer writes (February 24, 2009) that Kiffin is “crazy — like a fox” and defends Kiffin’s casual disregard for NCAA rules by writing “And if the coach breaks a few secondary rules along the way, so what?”

So what?

Since when did it become fashionable to break the rules?

Well, okay. You got me on that one. I forgot about the folks 142 miles west of Gainesville who think the NCAA is going to commend them for the way they handled what is likely to proven as institutionalized academic cheating on a magnitude so grand that it spans 10 sports.

“Uh, how could I have possibly known them boys was a-cheating?” says that venerable old icon from the School Out West.

Well, you’re right. Didn’t they make a movie about this? What was it called, “While You Were Sleeping”?

Anyway, I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes, since when did it become fashionable to break the rules?

And when did it become fashionable to lie and slander another coach? And when did it become fashionable to ask recruits to lie to their head coaches and to coaches they gave their word to? When did it become fashionable to lie that you’ve fired secretaries (in a bad economy no less) because they were 20 minutes late when in fact you haven’t fired anyone?

I could go on and on.

Mr. Wiedmer writes today, “Maybe that’s why Kiffin will return to Pahokee (Fla.) High to recruit junior wide receiver De’Joshua Johnson. This despite the firestorm surrounding his recent signing of fellow Pahokee product Nu’Keese Richardson. Richardson was the player whose prep coach — Blaze Thompson — Kiffin implied tried to keep the player from going to UT.”

Let’s start with the facts, which obviously are in short supply with our friends up in Dollywood and vicinity.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.