Posted: 6:09 pm Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Kiffin pretended to be Nu’Keese while texting 

By Jason Lieser

It’s funny that Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin brought up the issue of cell phone use. It seems ironic considering he did something strange — not a violation, but definitely odd — with Nu’Keese Richardson’s phone while Richardson was in Knoxville, Tenn., last weekend.

Kiffin and Richardson sat next to each other Saturday at Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena for the Volunteers’ basketball game against Florida. When Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson texted Richardson to inquire about the trip, Kiffin was looking over Richardson’s shoulder to monitor the phone — no doubt spooked by Florida coach Urban Meyer’s earlier phone calls.

What he did next might be the strangest element of Richardson’s recruitment. Kiffin asked for the phone and began texting Thompson, pretending he was Richardson.

Thompson had sent a message to Richardson asking if he was enjoying the basketball game and his visit. He got the following response from Richardson’s phone, as he recalled it: “Yes. I love it. My decision is made.”

But Kiffin was the one punching keys.

Richardson confirmed the incident Thursday, though he said the whole thing was a “joke.” Thompson clearly did not find it humorous. He also did not find it funny that Kiffin’s staff had circumvented him at several key points in Richardson’s recruitment.

In any case, what is a college coach doing with a recruit’s phone?

“I don’t know,” Thompson said, shaking his head.

I don’t know, either. I do know, though, that there would have been far fewer questions about cell phones if Kiffin hadn’t brought up the topic. Earlier today he accused Meyer of cheating by calling Richardson during his visit. The SEC pointed out that it was not a recruiting violation and admonished Kiffin for his lack of knowledge on the rules.