At SEC Media Days in July, Tennessee safety Eric Berry said Lane Kiffin's offseason comments fired up the Vols' players.
One of Kiffin's remarks caused a stir in the South Carolina locker room, as well.
USC receiver and team captain Moe Brown said he was offended by Kiffin's infamous "pumping gas" comment last winter. Kiffin, the first-year Vols coach, reportedly told Gamecocks freshman receiver Alshon Jeffery the Calhoun County star would wind up pumping gas if he signed with USC.
Kiffin has denied saying it. But Jeffery told teammates the story was true.
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"I didn't find much humor in that at all. Actually, I took it kind of personally," Brown said Tuesday. "I'm a South Carolina native, as well as a student here at the University of South Carolina. I'm a 3.2 finance/marketing major, and I feel I'm very intelligent. The last thing I'm going to be doing is pumping some gas after I get through at the university here."
Brown, an Anderson native expected to be cleared after missing the Vanderbilt game following a concussion, hopes to make Kiffin eat his words Saturday when the teams meet in Knoxville.
"Some things are just better to go without saying. And I'm pretty sure he didn't expect for it to come out, but it did," Brown said. "I'm taking it very personally. I'm taking it personally to the point where I'm going to show him how we do pump gas at South Carolina."
It was an eventful offseason for Kiffin, who apologized to Urban Meyer and drew a reprimand from the SEC after falsely accusing the Florida coach of breaking NCAA recruiting rules.
When Kiffin began calling prospects shortly after being announced as the Vols' coach in December, USC coach Steve Spurrier questioned whether Kiffin had taken the NCAA rules test.
Several months later at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., Kiffin told reporters he never received an apology from Spurrier. That prompted Spurrier to confront Kiffin in front of a group of reporters and tell him he never accused him of cheating.
But Spurrier has refused to comment this week when asked about the 34-year-old-Kiffin.
"Oh, that's for all you media people to comment on that," Spurrier said Tuesday. "I'm trying to worry about my own team here."
Spurrier said he has remained in touch with former Vols coach Phillip Fulmer, the recipient of many verbal jabs from Spurrier over the years. With his "pumping gas" salvo, Kiffin did his part to spice up the USC-Tennessee rivalry.
"As a coach, I feel certain things don't need to be said. That was one of those things that shouldn't have been said," Brown said. "I'm pretty sure it rubbed some of the other guys the wrong way, and (they) feel the same way I did.
"But when it comes down to it, we've still gotta play football. We still gotta go on the field and ... show him that we're ready to play and that we can do more than pump gas here in South Carolina."
Brown said Kiffin's quote was not posted in the locker room, but it has generated plenty of discussion. Defensive end Clifton Geathers, another South Carolina native, said USC players would use it as motivation.
"He made a statement," Geathers said. "I think we have to prove him wrong on what he said and (make him) regret what he said."