Fired by the Oakland Raiders (Oct. 1, 2008): Kiffin was fired by then-Raiders owner Al Davis, who called Kiffin a “flat-out liar” and cited the “propaganda” and lying” that had been going on for “weeks and months and a year and time.” Kiffin was four games into his second season with the Raiders when he was fired.
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Guaranteed win over Florida (January 2009): At his introductory press conference after being hired at Tennessee, Kiffin said he was looking forward to “singing Rocky Top all night long” after the Volunteers beat rival Florida. The Gators won 23-13 on Sept. 19, 2009.
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Head-to-head with Urban Meyer (February 2009): It’s complicated. Kiffin first accuses Florida coach Urban Meyer of committing an NCAA violation by calling recruit Nu’Keese Richardson during the prospect’s official visit to Knoxville. Instead, Kiffin got in trouble for mentioning Richardson by name, which is an NCAA violation. That verbal faux pas earned Kiffin a reprimand from SEC commissioner Mike Slive and an angry public statement from Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.
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Jabbing Nick Saban (February 2009): Kiffin also took time to throw jabs at Alabama coach Nick Saban shortly after national signing day in 2009. After hiring linebackers coach Lance Thompson away from Alabama, Kiffin said, “Nick Saban should have started his press conference by saying, ‘Our great class that we signed… I’d really like to thank [Thompson] because Lance signed eight of those guys.’” In turn, Thompson promised that Alabama’s days of raiding prospects from Memphis, one of Tennessee’s recruiting hotbeds, was over. One day later, Saban signed a prospect from… Memphis.
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“Pumping gas” quote (March 2009): Kiffin tells premier recruit Alshon Jeffery that if he ends up signing with South Carolina, he’d end up pumping gas for a living like other recruits from the state who ended up signing with the Gamecocks. Jeffery reveals Kiffin’s recruiting tactic in an interview with ESPN.com.
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Orange Pride (2009): After Kiffin’s tenure at Tennessee ended, the NCAA cited the program for the failure to monitor a program involving female students at the university called “Orange Pride.” According to The New York Times, the students were sent to high school games (including one involving running back Marcus Lattimore) and urged to maintain contact with prospects over social media and via texting and phone calls. According to the NCAA, the assistant coach responsible for feeding the female students information about the recruits was Kiffin’s brother-in-law, then-Tennessee assistant coach David Reaves.
Jim Brown, USA TODAY Sports
Bolt to USC (Jan. 13, 2010): Just weeks after completing his first season at Tennessee, Kiffin announces in a brief press conference in Knoxville that he is replacing Pete Carroll as USC’s head coach. His decision leads to angry protests on the university’s campus. “"This was not an easy decision," Kiffin said."This is something that happens very quick. We've been here 14 months, and the support has been unbelievable here. I really believe the only place I would have left here to go was… Southern California."
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Coaches Poll vote (August 2012): In August, Kiffin told reporters that he had not given USC his vote for No. 1 in the preseason USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll. After it was revealed that he had in fact voted the Trojans No. 1, Kiffin decided to not continue as a member of this season’s voting panel.
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Switching jerseys (Oct. 20, 2012): During an October win over Colorado, USC and Kiffin came under scrutiny for the way the Trojans switched the jersey numbers of backup quarterback Cody Kessler. Normally No. 6, Kessler was given No. 35, the same number as punter Kyle Negrete, and was used during a two-point conversion attempt in the first half. Kessler was then moved back to No. 6 in the second half. Switching jersey numbers to deceive opponents is a violation of an NCAA rule.
Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports
Deflating footballs (Nov. 3, 2012): Four days after a 62-51 loss to Oregon, USC issues a statement saying that one of its student managers had been caught deflating the Trojans’ footballs. Deflating the ball makes it easier to throw and catch, helping an offense. USC says that the staff and players were unaware that the student manager had been doctoring the footballs.
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A brutal firing (September 29, 2013): Kiffin is fired by USC just three games into the season, after the team gives up 62 points in a loss to Arizona State. The firing occurred immediately after the team landed at LAX, and according to reports, Kiffin was not allowed on the team bus back to USC.
Matt Kartozian, USA TODAY Sports
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