Kiffin's comments fan conspiracy flames

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The SEC has spoken and reprimanded Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin on Monday for comments he made criticizing the officials following Alabama’s 12-10 victory over the Vols.

Kiffin was upset with the discrepancy in the number of penalties called in the game. The Vols had eight and the Crimson Tide just one. He also said Alabama’s Terrence Cody should have been penalized for taking his helmet off on the field after blocking Daniel Lincoln’s field goal, which Kiffin said would have moved the Vols closer and given them another shot at a field goal.

In the SEC’s statement, it was pointed out that this was Kiffin’s second reprimand in this calendar year. He was also reprimanded back in February for comments he made about Florida’s Urban Meyer.

“Coach Kiffin is on notice that for any further violations of SEC policies will subject him to additional penalties, including suspension,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive warned in his statement.

Again, though, there’s a bigger issue at stake here.

Coaches are starting to speak out more than ever before about the officiating, which only fans the flames out there of the nonsensical conspiracy theory that the SEC is trying to rig it where Alabama and Florida both meet unbeaten in the SEC championship game.

Did you catch’s Kiffin’s jab on Sunday after practice?

“I'm sure we'll get one of those letters that mean nothing, that Bobby [Petrino] got last week, but Florida and Alabama live on,” Kiffin said.

Is he saying that Alabama and Florida play by a different set of rules? It sure sounds like it.

If you’ve got a coach in the league suggesting as much publicly, then you’ve got a problem.

A big problem.

And it’s one that doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

It’s to the point now where coaches are almost thumbing their noses at Slive and the league office as if to say, “Go ahead … reprimand me, fine me, do whatever. I don’t care.”

The only reason the SEC announced last week that it had suspended the officiating crew from the LSU-Georgia and Florida-Arkansas games was because it was getting so much heat nationally.

But the embers are glowing from within the conference, too.

Just ask Kiffin or Petrino or Dan Mullen, who’s likely next on Slive’s hit list for some of his biting comments coming out of the Florida game.