Students chant and riot outside Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex
An estimated 2,000 students gathered oustide of Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex, and a similar crowd at Neyland Stadium, Tuesday night to riot in response to Lane Kiffin resigning at Tennessee to head up Southern California's football team.
The Knoxville Fire Department was called in due to students setting a few different fires to Lane Kiffin shirts, a bookshelf and two mattress. Campus and city police were on hand as well to keep the crowd in check. A couple of students were detained, but no arrests were made, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
"In the beginning...[the rioting] was actually for a purpose," said Rachel Needham. "Toward the end of the night it seemed more, just like, people just wanting a reason to get together and kinda just go crazy..."
Like many, Needham heard about Kiffin leaving through text. She told her friends, and they went to The Rock to see new Kiffin-themed painting, then joined the riot soon after.
There were a lot of words thrown around at Kiffin's swift departure through organized chants and signs. Most of them probably shouldn't be repeated, though.
[Kiffin] said he wanted to build a championship team here in Knoxville and obviously it was a lie. UT student
A couple appropriate words that were said throughout the night? Disappointment and betrayal.
"I feel betrayed to be honest with you," said one student in an interview with TVC. "We put our faith in Lane Kiffin and he left after one year. He said he wanted to build a championship team here in Knoxville and obviously it was a lie. And everything he says from now on is obviously going to be a lie."
During the 14 months Kiffin was head coach he was featured in national headlines numerous times for his remarks toward recruits as well as to SEC coaches, including one incident where he accused Florida's Urban Meyer of cheating during recruitment.
Students waited outside the building where Kiffin had a brief press conference hoping to give him a piece of their minds. Nearly all had deserted the effort before Kiffin finally left the building with police escort, according to ESPN blogger Chris Low.
At Neyland Stadium, students tried to get in the stadium and storm the field, but were unsuccessful due to the police's presence.
Students now look ahead, hoping the next hire as head coach will be the right one.
"I wouldn't mind seeing Mike Leach and the Air Raid," said Andrew Whaley. "His personality would clash with a lot of people here in east Tennessee but that offense, it's success. It guarantees success."
"It's going to be intriguing for the next coach who comes here," said the student from the TVC interview.
As well as rioting, numerous anti-Kiffin Facebook groups emerged, including "Dear Lane Kiffin, We hate you. Love, the Vols," and "I was betrayed by Lane Kiffin." These two groups alone have over 35,000 members.