GAINESVILLE -- Florida wasn't the only school Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin took a shot at on Thursday. The Vols' coach also called into question the people at Pahokee Middle/High School.
While addressing a crowd of about 1,000 people at the Knoxville Convention Center, Kiffin said that receiving a faxed National Letter of Intent from Pahokee receiver Nu'Keese Richrdson on Wednesday was made difficult by the staff at Pahokee. Kiffin inferred that Pahokee High wanted to somehow prevent Richardson from signing with UT.
"You can't understand how hard this is to get done," Kiffin said. "[UT assistant coach] Eddie [Gran] had this set up at 7 o'clock in the morning. [Richardson's aunts] got the papers signed by the kid. They didn't go do it at the school because they knew somebody at the school was going to screw it up. The fax machine wouldn't work, or they would have changed the signatures, all the things that go on in Pahokee now. The aunts took it over to a junior high, found a fax machine that worked and faxed them over to us at 7 o'clock, and I kept it in a drawer till their 1 o'clock press conference."
Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson said on Thursday he was "confused" by Kiffin's comments. For starters, there isn't a junior high in Pahokee. Pahokee High School and Pahokee Middle are the same school. Thompson said that Kiffin must have been talking about Pahokee Elementary, where Richardson's aunt works.
Thompson said that he has been friends with the Richardson family for 20 years and also said, "I wouldn't think they would say something like that about me."
Thompson was troubled by Kiffin's apparent fear that Pahokee had the intentions to somehow sabotage Richardson's attempt to fax his National Letter of Intent to Tennessee.
"I'm just confused," Thompson said. "I don't know where he would get we screw up faxes or change signatures. No player here has ever been coerced by me or anyone else at the school to go to one school or the other. Pahokee is certainly not a Florida school. [UF cornerback] Janoris [Jenkins] was our first to go there in a long time. We would have been proud for [Richardson] to go to Florida but we're just
as proud he went to Tennessee, although with these statements, I'm confused why [Kiffin] would bash a school he would get a commitment from."
Thompson said he looks forward to speaking with Kiffin and "hearing what this is all about."
"We have to deal with Tennessee and we're going to maintain a professional relationship with them," Thompson said. "They've got a great kid and a great player. We've never had anyone at Tennessee and we're excited about it. This is really sad that Coach Kiffin would make these kinds of statements.
"You put your heart into working with kids and any time your professionalism or your character is questioned it takes you back and makes you concerned."