- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kevin O'Neill has a reputation for being somewhat prickly, but the man can bring the funny. The latest example: O'Neill told reporters that he plans to deflect attention from this season's USC game at Tennessee and his return to Knoxville, Tenn. -- where he acrimoniously left the head-coaching position to take a job at Northwestern in 1997 -- by bringing Knoxville's public enemy No. 1 along for the ride.
That's right. O'Neill played the Lane Kiffin card. From the Knoxville News Sentinel:
"I'm thinking I'm going to bring Lane (Kiffin) with me to the game,'' O'Neill said Wednesday at the adidas Invitational AAU basketball tournament. "That should keep the heat off of me.'' As for Kiffin's attendance at the game in Knoxville, O'Neill admits he probably won't be able to convince the former UT and current Southern Cal football coach to attend the game. "We'd have to wear Kevlar instead of suits if we did,'' O'Neill said. "But at least we can stay at his house in Knoxville. It's never going to sell; might as well turn it into a hotel.''
Which is more surprising: That Kevin O'Neill genuinely made me chuckle on a dreary Thursday morning? Or that Lane Kiffin's Knoxville property hasn't (yet) been looted and set ablaze by a pack of roving Tennessee rioters? I'll go with the former, just by a hair.