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Spurrier confronts Kiffin at SEC meetings

5/26/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

DESTIN, Fla. -- Leave it to the Head Ball Coach to steal the show.

The fireworks that some were anticipating Tuesday when the football coaches all gathered at the SEC spring meetings never really materialized, but there was a classic exchange involving South Carolina's Steve Spurrier and Tennessee's Lane Kiffin.

As the coaches were filtering out of their meeting room and waiting for an elevator, a reporter informed Spurrier that Kiffin, albeit jokingly, had said earlier in the day that he never got an apology from Spurrier about questioning whether Kiffin had taken the recruiting test.

Spurrier sighed, slumped his shoulders and then wheeled around toward Kiffin, who was standing about five feet away waiting on the same elevator.

"I didn't accuse you of cheating," said an animated Spurrier, motioning toward Kiffin, who stood there with his face reddening by the second.

"What I said was, 'Was it permissible to call recruits before you were announced head coach and had taken the [recruiting] test?' Now, you took the test online, and I didn't even know you could do that. I thought you had to take the test on campus ... and then start calling [recruits]."

Kiffin never fired back, but Arkansas' Bobby Petrino walked by and quipped, "You're not getting me in the middle of this one."

Kentucky's Rich Brooks and Auburn's Gene Chizik were also standing there waiting on the elevator, and they all -- including Spurrier and Kiffin -- got on together. There were several reporters in the area, all of whom broke out into laughter.

Before the elevator doors closed, Spurrier piped up one more time and said in his familiar tone, "I never said you broke any rules. I just said, 'Was it permissible to make any calls?'"

Something tells me Petrino had it right earlier in the day when he joked that maybe Ultimate Fighting was the best way to settle all the recent sniping among the coaches.

"If you want to quit talking about it, just jump into that ring," Petrino said. "That would be fun That would sell some tickets."

One thing's for sure: SEC commissioner Mike Slive's heart-to-heart chat with the coaches and athletic directors Wednesday about keeping the focus on the field ought to be interesting.