Kiffin: I’m Gone

December 14th, 2008
Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin confirmed after Sundays loss to the Dixie Chicks that he is leaving after the season.

Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin confirmed after Sunday's loss to the Dixie Chicks that he is leaving after the season.

In the worst-kept secret Joe can remember, and a news item Joe first reported back in October before anyone else in the Tampa Bay media, Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin confirmed today that, yes, he will join his son Lane Kiffin at the University of Tennessee following the season, reports Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times.

“It boiled down to one thing: It was your son, and that’s what it is,” Kiffin said. “I love these players. I addressed it Wednesday. I told (General Manager) Bruce (Allen). Jon (Gruden) was the first person I told. The head coach, he should know first. I told the defensive staff before I went downstairs at a quarter ’til 4. We had a team meeting at 4 o’clock and the whole team was there.

“I told them kind of what I’m telling you. I said, “Guys, this was a tough decision. I went back and forth. I said I just want you to know now. I didn’t think it was right to keep carrying it out.”

And so ends a 13-season era in Tampa Bay that Bucs fans may never see duplicated. When Monte Kiffin took over as Bucs defensive coordinator in 1996, the Bucs were a dreadful squad. Now under Kiffin, the Bucs are annually considered one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Few defenses, including the vaunted Steel Curtain of the Steelers, the 1985 Bears or the 2000 Ravens could claim a better defense than the one Kiffin helped mold for the Bucs in the Super Bowl season of 2002.

So well respected is Kiffin that others have campaigned for Kiffin’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So has Joe.

Joe is somewhat torn on this subject. He’s happy for Kiffin but sad as a Bucs fan.

Apparently, Kiffin told the team this earlier in the week. No wonder the defense played lights out today for its old warrior coach.

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