It’s never good news for a football team when a coach steps aside, but it's even more so when he’s one of the pre-eminent defensive coordinators in the game and was working for his son. The USC Trojans announced via Twitter Thursday night that assistant coach Monte Kiffin will step away from the team to pursue opportunities in the NFL. His resignation will be in effect after the Trojans' bowl game.
“I really enjoyed my time at USC and the opportunity I had to work with our players and coaches,” Kiffin said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The chance to work for my son, Lane, was unique and memorable, but we always treated each other professionally on a coach-to-coach basis.”
Monte Kiffin is one of the most revered names in football because of his Tampa 2 defensive strategy, which propelled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, under head coach Jon Gruden, to a Super Bowl victory ten years ago. He’s been in the game for decades, building a rapport with coaches who are now among the best in the NFL.
Pro Football Talk speculated that Kiffin could be headed to Seattle, where he’d be reunited with former USC coach Pete Carroll. Now head coach of the Seahawks, Carroll has worked with Kiffin on and off since the two were coordinators in the NFL of the 1980s.
Other sports experts aren’t buying it, though, and they think the evidence is clear that Kiffin is falling on his sword for a USC team that has been described by some commentators as disappointing. Before the season started, the Trojans were projected to be one of the best teams in college football, only to be unranked months later and looking at an appearance in the Sun Bowl.
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Frank Schwab of Yahoo’s Dr. Saturday blog reminded readers that Kiffin’s time had passed in southern California. USC lost four of their last five games, and in those games the team allowed 161 points, a sum that’d make any head coach shake his head. Monte, 72, may have been making it easier on his son by quietly walking away before making him wonder how to fire his dad.