Bleeding orange, seeing red over Kiffin

Tennessee fans are feeling a bit conflicted -- angry at having been jilted by a spouse they weren't really in love with in the first place.

As one fan described it on Twitter: "It's like getting a divorce from a stripper."

Students rioted on Tennessee's campus Tuesday night after word spread that football coach Lane Kiffin, 34, was bolting for USC after just one season in Knoxville. Despite the mayhem,  a local law enforcement official sounded almost sympathetic.

"I think the students have had kind of a violent reaction to that, and a lot of them are disheartened, upset and feel betrayed that ... he would be leaving and taking off," Knoxville Fire Department spokesman D.J. Corcoran told the Associated Press.

Students also covered "The Rock," a giant boulder on campus usually reserved for cheery sentiments, with obscenities aimed at the departing coach. On YouTube, one outraged fan attracted more than 65,000 page views with footage of him urinating on a Kiffin T-shirt.

"I think everyone believed he was fully committed to the university and the program," said Knoxville-bred Allison Cochran, 38, who lives in the Brookhaven area. "We're mad that he left and furious with the timing."

National signing day is just three weeks away, and there is concern that prized recruits may waver without a head coach in place. Ironically, Tennessee may end up plucking a new coach from another university even closer to the recruiting deadline.

Kiffin's hiring 14 months ago came as a surprise to Volunteers backers, though his vigor began to win them over. He sparred publicly with his colleagues in the SEC, most notably Florida's Urban Meyer, whom he accused of violating NCAA regulations.

"A lot of those comments made me cringe, but fans liked his passion," Cochran said. "We assumed he was talking smack because he was committed to Tennessee."

But at least one player said Kiffin's heart always seemed to belong to USC, where he was a member of Pete Carroll's coaching staff from 2001 to ‘06.

"They'd replaced our highlight video from the past season with Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Dwayne Jarrett from USC," senior center Josh McNeil told blogger Clay Travis. "I was like, 'Man, I know we were 5-7 last year, but this is Tennessee. Right beside our national title trophy? Come on, man.'"

Despite all the hurt feelings, some good has come out of Kiffin's departure. The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that one local store owner has encouraged customers to return their "It's Time" (a slogan adopted by Kiffin) T-shirts, which he plans to ship to Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake Tuesday.