Lane Kiffin thought he'd found a loophole. You can't get fined for criticizing officiating, he reasoned, if you don't actually say any criticisms.
“The game might’ve taken five hours because every call took 10 minutes to figure out how to explain it,” Kiffin said after Florida Atlantic's 36-31 loss to Marshall, a game in which Kiffin's Owls were flagged nine times for 90 yards. "I can’t get fined for that.”
So Kiffin, the reigning king of Coach Twitter, tweeted his thoughts on Saturday evening. You can't call it a subtweet, because he tagged the conference in the tweet.
Turns out, they get Twitter in the Conference USA offices.
On Sunday, the conference announced Kiffin has been fined $5,000 and publicly reprimanded for violating the league's sportsmanship policy.
“Conference USA has specific rules and standards regarding sportsmanship which have been adopted by our membership,” commissioner Judy MacLeod said in a statement. “We have an obligation to enforce our rules, including the prohibition of public criticism of officiating.”
Kiffin specifically held his tongue Friday night because he wanted to avoid a fine.
“I already made the decision I’m not going to get into officiating," Kiffin said. "I don’t know if we lose money in this conference — we probably do — and I don’t have a lot anymore. I’m not going to lose any. I’m about to say what I want to say, but I’m not going to. The assistant AD is back there shaking his head like, ‘Hey, don’t say what you wanna say.’ I’m not gonna say anything.”
He didn't say anything -- at least in the literal sense -- but C-USA fined him anyway.