Rocking Old Rocky Top

Brazen coach Lane Kiffin is winning few friends in his new job at Tennessee—raiding SEC foes for assistants, running off staffers and accusing a major rival of a recruiting violation.

  1. When Lane Kiffin first met Layla Reaves, he didn’t court her so much as recruit her. They were both 24. Layla was working as the special events coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lane, an offensive line assistant at Colorado State, had come to Florida to see his father, Monte, the Bucs’ defensive coordinator.

    One day Monte showed up at the building where Layla worked. He had Lane with him. “I had to be nice to him,” Layla recalls. “I mean, he was Monte Kiffin’s son. I thought he was a nice guy, but I might’ve had a different impression had I known he’d been scouting me for a while.”

    As it happened, Layla was the daughter of John Reaves, a former All-America quarterback at Florida who’d played in the NFL and the USFL. Lane liked her football pedigree, but she was also good to look at. Layla’s parents had named her after the girl in the Derek and the Dominos song.

    “You never want your dad to introduce you to a girl,” Lane says, “but I have to give it to Monte. He’s a pretty good talent evaluator.”

    Three months after the introduction, Lane’s recruiting blitz complete, he and Layla were engaged. Married since July 2000, the Kiffins have three children, the youngest a son born in January, some six weeks after Lane was named head coach at Tennessee.

    “When Lane sets his mind on something, he gets it,” Layla says. “He can coerce you into anything. And he can charm anybody. This man … trust me when I tell you this, he can get you to jump off a cliff.”

    * * *

    Kiffin...