After basically being fired by his own son, Lane, former Southern Cal defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has been hired to the same position by an almost equally as abrasive boss in Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, according to ESPN.
Kiffin, who turns 73 in February, is an absolutely legendary defensive mind, having spent 26 seasons as an assistant at the NFL level before joining his son at Tennessee in 2009. He had expressed an interest in returning to the big leagues after he officially resigned from his post with the Trojans.
Only three days after firing Rob Ryan, the brother of Jets head coach Rex, the Cowboys not only brought in the guru but they will allow him to interview the entire defensive staff. Kiffin will then decide who stays and who goes.
Kiffin spent 13 of his 26 years in the as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator. There, he literally invented the Tampa-2 defensive scheme that several teams have since taken on as their base defensive look. He coached such defensive superstars as Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber and helped engineer the franchise’s lone Super Bowl win in 2002.
As for Ryan, his defense finished at No. 19 in the league this year as the ‘Boys missed the playoffs yet again. Dallas gave up a franchise all-time high of 5,687 yards and forced a franchise-record low of 16 turnovers.
Kiffin struggled at the collegiate ranks, there is simply no question about that. The Trojans opened the season as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team and finished it as losers to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl — not exactly the program’s moment in the sun (zing!). Kiffin’s defense gave up 24.3 points per game, good for a mere 40th nationally and simply unacceptable considering the amount of talent the team has on both sides of the football.
However, it looked like what Kiffin really struggled with was the wide variation in offensive systems from week to week. Play calling and offensive schematics is a touch more uniform in the NFL because the players are all so much bigger, faster and stronger.
Kiffin will have to figure out a way to smoothly transition his new unit to the 4-3 style he likes from the 3-4 Ryan instituted in Dallas. How successfully the again legend manages to do that will go a long way towards dictating the results of Kiffin’s tenure in The House that Jerry Built.