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Alabama’s Lane Kiffin taunted in return to Tennessee

Lane Kiffin
Alabama offensive coordinator and former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin is escorted by police into Neyland Stadium before the Crimson Tide played the Volunteers on Saturday.

Welcome back?

Well, not exactly.

Four police officers escorted Lane Kiffin, the first-year offensive coordinator for Alabama, from a dark car into Neyland Stadium before Saturday’s game at Tennessee.

It marked Kiffin’s first return to Knoxville since walking out on the school, after one 7-6 season, to become USC’s coach in 2010.

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Tennessee fans did not take kindly to the early exit and had been awaiting Kiffin’s return ever since he was hired at Alabama after being fired at USC.

Volunteers fans didn’t seem that interested when Alabama Coach Nick Saban emerged from his vehicle before the game. They saved their jeering for Kiffin, who shook hands with a Tennessee official and flashed a “V” sign to the crowd with his right hand.

Kiffin had the upper hand knowing he was coming back with a superior Alabama offense.

He dialed up the right call on Alabama’s first play, a short pass in the right flat from Blake Sims to Amari Cooper.

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Kiffin raced along the right sideline as Cooper completed an 80-yard scoring play.

Alabama made it 13-0 on another scoring pass from Sims to Cooper and, before you knew it, was up 27-0. Tennessee answered with 17 points, but Alabama finished with enough offense to win.

Kiffin, like a cat, always lands on his feet.

USC fans wishing to boo their former coach, for alleged bubble-screen crimes against the program, must make travel plans for Texas in 2016.

That’s when USC and Alabama kick off the season with a neutral-site game at AT&T Stadium.

Of course, that’s assuming Kiffin won’t parlay his one season at Alabama into another head coaching job at a high-level program.

No one would be that crazy … right, Florida?

Well Heeled

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One benefit in hiring ex-coaches as analysts is they are less likely to decline comment on explosive news stories involving their former programs.

ESPN, for example, didn’t have to chase down Butch Davis or Mack Brown to get reaction about the academic scandal at the University of North Carolina.

ESPN just attached microphones to employees Davis and Brown and interviewed them in studio during halftime of the Rutgers-Nebraska game.

Davis and Brown denied any knowledge of academic fraud while they were at North Carolina. Brown coached the Tar Heels from 1988-97 while Davis was head coach from 2007-10.

An ongoing investigation at North Carolina has revealed that, since 1993, more than 3,000 students benefited in a sham class on African and Afro-American students. About half of those involved were athletes.

“I wasn’t aware,” Brown, who left North Carolina for Texas after the 1997 season, said of the academic improprieties. “I never ever heard, felt or saw anything appropriate academically.”

Davis said he knew his players were taking independent study classes.

“But to deem there was any kind of knowing on our part that there was any fraudulent things is totally incorrect.”

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Stay tuned to ESPN for the latest breaking news on the widening North Carolina scandal, followed by continuing in-studio interviews with coaches on their payroll.

Putting a charge in Nebraska

Living up to a Heisman Trophy campaign is not easy.

Oregon took a huge risk in 2001 when it placed a giant billboard of quarterback Joey Harrington in the heart of New York City.

“Joey Heisman” finished fourth in final balloting but justified the campaign by leading Oregon to a No. 2 final national ranking.

Early this season, Nebraska promoted tailback Ameer Abdullah by sending out “AA” battery packs to Heisman voters.

The box came with a warning label: (1) Performance can cause shock to opposing defenders. (2) Abdullah has been known to spark his team to victory. (3) Prolonged exposure could cause an explosion on the national scene. (4) Continued use will likely result in touchdowns.

Abdullah continued providing jolts Saturday when he powered Nebraska to 42-24 win over Rutgers in Lincoln.

Abdullah amassed a school-record 341 total yards in a victory that improved his team’s record to 7-1. Abdullah also moved past Ohio State’s Archie Griffin into second place for Big Ten all-purpose yards. Abdullah’s total of 6,604 yards leaves him 825 behind Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne on the all-time list.

Note: Griffin and Dayne both won Heisman trophies (Griffin won two).

It wouldn’t be, um, a shock if Abdullah joins the club.

Passer and the pitcher

Kentucky blew its chance to topple No. 1 Mississippi State in Lexington, but its quarterback showed off a pretty good fastball.

Patrick Towles had a huge game in defeat, throwing for 390 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 76 yards and two scores.

Wait, wasn’t Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott supposed to be the best player on the field?

Towles owns a pretty good pitching pedigree as the grandson of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning.

Bunning, who later became the U.S. senator from Kentucky, attended Saturday’s game (but did not throw out the first pitch).

Grandpa had pretty good numbers too: He won 224 games with a 3.27 earned-run average in a 17-year major league career.


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