Just minutes after Lane Kiffin addressed his Tennessee Volunteer players to inform them he was leaving town to become the next head coach of the USC football program, he was greeted by dozens of fans outside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex determined to “politely” send him on his way to City of Angels in proper fashion.
According to govolsextra.com, a small crowd of hostile students and fans made their way into the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex Tuesday night, hoping to let the now former-Volunteer coach know exactly how they felt. As Kiffin left the meeting with his players (some of whom had left before he finished) and headed toward a nearby office where his final press conference was to be held, Volunteer Nation overwhelmed the 34-year-old coach with a variety of obscenities and distasteful parting shots.
While Kiffin awkwardly faced the media with a few disingenuous words and an “I have a plane to catch” look on his face, his California dream was delayed with an unexpected rocky departure, thanks to the livid Tennessee faithful who had gathered outside the complex.
As the coach slowly drove through the streets of campus one final time, he was serenaded by a much larger crowd than the one police officers quietly quelled inside the sports complex — Kiffin’s car was allegedly chased down by members of the student body in what is being called a “mini-riot” or “stampede.”
The incident, which featured an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 students, also included mattress burnings, continuous obscenities and an array of inappropriate paintings made on the university’s most famous landmark “The Rock.” The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported late Tuesday evening that local police officials were called in to tear gas the crowd.
Kiffin’s violent farewell not only set off the Volunteers’ fan base, but left several players stunned and searching for answers.
“I’m just so hurt by the fact he’s leaving us after we bought in and did everything he asked us to,” defensive end Ben Martin told the Chattanooga Free Press.
“Three coaches in three years? Unbelievable, man. Unbelievable,” said linebacker LaMarcus Thompson.
Luckily for Kiffin, he won’t have to return to his well-wishers in Knoxville until 2021 or 2022, when the Trojans and Volunteers are scheduled to play a home-and-home series. That of course, hinges upon whether he can take the USC program back to the top of the rock in college football. If not, I’m pretty sure the city of Los Angeles has thrown a few riots in its day.