Over the past 14 months, Lane Kiffin has been in the news quite often. From his hiring at Tennessee, to his comments regarding Florida's Urban Meyer, and to his most recent decision to leave Knoxville to replace Pete Carroll at USC, the name "Lane Kiffin" has remained one of the most popular searches on google in recent months. This week is no exception, as the latest story regarding the young coach revolves around a traffic accident that took place more than a year ago:
Lane Kiffin was behind the wheel of his leased Lexus in August when, the coach said, he fell asleep and crashed the car, a high-ranking University of Tennessee official confirmed to ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach on Tuesday.
Also, Kiffin told athletic director Mike Hamilton that he had been at the football complex for a late meeting that night and said that he was heading home when he got into the accident, according to the source.
Kiffin walked home from the scene of the wreck, a high-ranking Tennessee source told ESPN's Dwayne Bray.
Despite the fact that this accident took place about five months ago, Kiffin continues to receive a great deal of flak from Volunteer fans and media members regarding the reported incident. In reality, it's rather unfair.
First off, Kiffin does need to take full responsibility for the incident. In this situation, as the driver, there is nobody to blame but himself. He was driving home tired in the early hours of the morning so it is more than reasonable to expect trouble to ensue. He screwed up and that is that.
But in the meanwhile, the rumor mongering and the defamation of his character need to end. It's childish, immature, and flat out irresponsible. Despite the various internet reports that Kiffin had been drinking and was with female students at the time of the accident last summer, there has yet to be any substantial evidence that supports such claims. Even Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton told the media that they "were never able to substantiate any of that."
So why press the issue further?
Over the past few days, there have been plenty of people out there who have continued to use this situation as an opportunity to criticize Kiffin's abilities as a collegiate head coach. In actuality, the two have little to no correlation.
How does the fact that Kiffin got into a one-car accident last summer have any determination on whether he will be successful here at 'SC. At the very least, the primary reason he wrecked the leased Lexus to begin with was due to the fact that he was driving after spending extra hours at work. He wasn't drunk or under the influence of any sort of drug. He was simply spending extra time doing his job. While it is somewhat irresponsible to drive so late, his effort and intentions as a football coach are commendable.
Wouldn't you prefer your head coach to be putting in those extra hours anyway?
It's unfortunate this situation happened, nobody wants to get in an automobile wreck, but this does not necessarily mean that Kiffin is a failure as a head coach or a bad guy. Based on the facts presented, he crashed the car, because he was tired after a long day at the office. Nothing more and nothing less. Now, let's close the book and move on.