Orgeron trying to steer recruits to USC

January, 13, 2010
1/13/10
7:46
AM ET
How crazy did it get Tuesday night on Rocky Top, which clearly has been rocked?

Consider this scene: While Lane Kiffin attempted to tell the Tennessee players that he was no longer going to be their coach in a meeting that nearly got out of hand, Kiffin's recruiting coordinator, Ed Orgeron, was calling some of those same players -- mid-term freshmen who'd yet to enroll -- and trying to convince them not to enroll and instead follow Kiffin and Orgeron to Southern California.

Rising sophomore defensive lineman Marlon Walls said he overheard Orgeron making his USC pitch to some of the incoming Tennessee freshmen while many of them still weren't completely sure what was going on.

Afterward, Orgeron's Tennessee-issued cell phone was turned off.

"We told them [the freshmen] in the meeting that it's their option," Walls told Volquest.com. "If they want to go, go. But we're a family here. You don't sign with no school for no coach. And just like they left us, they'll leave you all too. ... And we heard Coach O in the background calling enrollees and telling them that they got an offer to USC. He couldn't even address us. He couldn't even call us first.

"Freshmen put [Orgeron] on speakerphone. I called him five times, and he wouldn't pick up. But he's calling them. They put him on speakerphone and said all of them got offers to USC."

Walls called Kiffin a "fake guy" and added: "We bought into his system and we bought into what he was telling us to do, and for him to leave us like that, it just shows you what kind of man he is, shows you his character. We're still going to be Tennessee."

Kiffin finally left the football complex just before midnight and did so with a police escort.

Chris Low | email

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