It wasn’t that long ago that Monte Kiffin was the defensive coordinator of the Buccaneers, the mastermind of the Tampa 2 scheme, and the most respected defensive strategist in football.
But it feels like it was long ago.
Kiffin left the Buccaneers to follow his son, Lane Kiffin, to the University of Tennessee, then left with Lane for the University of Southern California, and now the Trojans are going through a disappointing season for which Monte’s defense is getting much of the blame. Lane Kiffin said after USC’s loss to UCLA on Saturday that he had been assured his job is safe, but votes of confidence in the coaching profession are notoriously unreliable, and even if Lane’s job is safe, there’s increasing talk that Monte might have to be sacrificed to save his son’s job. (It was telling that after Lane made the comment about his job being safe, Monte told reporters that he wasn’t aware of any such assurances.)
Bruce Feldman of CBS mentioned after USC’s loss on Saturday that if Monte is no longer at USC after this year, he may go back to NFL as a consultant, possibly to work for Pete Carroll in Seattle. That pairing would make a lot of sense, as Kiffin and Carroll have worked together many times in the past: Monte was the linebackers coach of the Jets in 1990, when Carroll was their defensive coordinator, and the two of them also worked on the same Vikings staff from 1986 to 1989, the same Bills staff in 1985, and the same North Carolina State staff from 1980 to 1982.
Kiffin’s reputation as a defensive guru has taken a hit at USC, but he could still be a valuable addition to some team’s staff. USC’s mounting losses may end up being Seattle’s gain.