Steve Spurrier lost a longtime sparring partner when Phillip Fulmer resigned from Tennessee.
But it did not take long for the South Carolina coach to go after new Volunteers coach Lane Kiffin. Spurrier questioned whether Kiffin committed an NCAA recruiting violation a day before he was introduced as Fulmer’s successor Monday in Knoxville.
Adding to the intrigue is that former Gamecocks recruiting coordinator David Reaves, Kiffin’s brother-in-law, has joined Tennessee’s staff as quarterbacks coach.
On his first official day with the Vols on Monday, Reaves ran into three USC assistants — Steve Spurrier Jr., Ron Cooper and new recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer — while recruiting at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.
Reaves’ leaving for an SEC East rival already has created a stir.
According to a story published on VolQuest.com, a fan site that is part of the Rivals.com network, Kiffin and Reaves called Tampa, Fla., running back Jarvis Giles on Sunday and left him voice messages.
The NCAA requires coaches to pass a certification test before they can contact recruits. During his introductory press conference, Kiffin said he took the test last week.
Earlier Monday, before Kiffin’s explanation about taking the test, Spurrier jokingly suggested Kiffin might have called the recruit as “an interested observer.”
Spurrier said when he arrived at USC in November 2004 following a three-year hiatus from the college game, he took the NCAA test following the news conference that announced his hiring.
“I hadn’t taken it in three or four years. At that time I could start making calls,” Spurrier said.
Reaves, who helped the Gamecocks’ land a consensus top-10 recruiting class two years ago, was the lead recruiter on several of USC’s top remaining targets, including Giles. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Giles committed to the Volunteers before wavering after Fulmer announced his resignation last month.
He took an official visit to Nebraska this past weekend and was expected to choose between the Cornhuskers and USC. But Reaves, whose father lives in Tampa, is trying to get the Vols back in the picture with Giles.
Spurrier said it is “pretty much free go” from a recruiting standpoint when a coach joins a rival staff.
“Sometimes ethically some coaches say, ‘Well, I was recruiting you for over there. But one of our other coaches is going to recruit you now that I’m here,’ ” Spurrier said. “But really they just (say), ‘You should have come there, but now you should come here.’
“That’s the way most coaches sort of do it, I think. I’m sure that’s what David has done, which is part of the game.”
Reaves, 29, a Columbia native who played quarterback at Spring Valley, spent seven seasons at USC, beginning as a graduate assistant under Lou Holtz in 2002. He said Sunday that leaving USC was a tough decision, but the opportunity to work with Kiffin at another SEC school was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.
“I think (in) recruiting, South Carolina’s on the right track, getting the right kids in,” Reaves said.
Now Reaves will try to get the Vols back on track by convincing some of those same players to come to Knoxville.
Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.