A little over eight years ago when Lane Kiffin stepped down as the Tennessee Vols head coach to take the same job at USC, I didn’t think there would ever be a day where UT fans, for the most part, were actually “okay” with him.

But time heals all wounds…..mostly.

This past year saw quite the love affair between a portion of the Vol fan base and Kiffin. There was actually a large contingent of fans that were pushing for Tennessee to replace former head coach Butch Jones with Kiffin.

Obviously that didn’t happen (nor was it ever going to happen), but that didn’t stop Kiffin from having fun with Vol fans on social media.

Recently, in an extended interview on Marty Smith’s podcast (Marty Smith’s America), Kiffin was asked, candidly, how he felt about Vol fans.

Kiffin first recounted how Vol fans “weren’t that good” when he left in early 2010. He also told a story about how security wanted him to wear a bullet proof vest when he returned to Neyland in 2014 as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. He ended up declining the vest, but he had plenty of security with him when he came on the field in front of Vol faithful for the first time (I was standing on the field at the visitors tunnel when Kiffin walked out, the tension in the air was palpable).

They’re awesome now. They weren’t real good right when we left. Or when we got to Alabama and went back to Neyland Stadium…there weren’t 100,000 people chanting I love you, that’s for sure. But no, they’re awesome now.

Of course, Kiffin didn’t stop at calling UT fans “awesome”. He took the praise a step further, saying of Tennessee fans “They’re arguably the most passionate fans in the country”.

It’s damn hard to argue with that, Lane.

For better or worse, Vol fans are extremely passionate. And I’ve yet to see another fan base that brings it on a weekly basis, even in the middle of the summer, like Tennessee fans.

Featured image via Getty

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