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Monte Kiffin Bids Farewell to Tampa

The final game for Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin wasn’t suppose to end like it did.

The well respected defensive coach has been with the Bucs for 13 years.  The  announcement  that he was leaving Tampa to go to the University of Tennessee and coach with his son Lane Kiffin who has recently been named head coach for the Volunteer’s has been what many say:  “the beginning of the Buccaneers downward spiral.”

Referred to as the father of the “Tampa-2” defense, he helped lead the Bucs to become one of the most consistent defensive teams.

In December, they entered with a 9-3 record.  On Sunday 12-28-08, in their game against the Raiders they “crashed and burned” giving up 129 rushing yards in the final quarter of the game.  They lost 31-24 making this their fourth consecutive loss and an over all season ending record of 9-7.

In a post game interview with the 68 year old coach he said:  “It’s not the script I would have written, Sabby (Piscitelli) gets an interception. We’re up 24-14. You celebrate a little. The crowd is going nuts. Your foe is on the ropes. We should have put it away.”

Ten of the last twelve seasons the Buccaneers  defense ranked in the league’s top 10. For eight of those years, they defense were in the top five.  In 2005, they were ranked No. 1.

Monte Kiffin spoke about the season and it’s ending and said: “I think the hardest thing, to be quite honest with you, is you can’t come back to the players and tell them we’ll get it fixed.  I think that’s the hardest thing. I just want to go back and start again the last four weeks. But you can’t do that.”

Coaching  with your son would be a father’s dream come true.  For Kiffin he will  live that dream as he prepares to pack up his playbook and head to “Rocky Top” to try and teach some college players the art of the “Tampa-2 defense.  Alongside his son Lane who hopes to lift the University of Tennessee Volunteers up and helped them to once again become one of the top the  powerhouse teams in the SEC.

There is one thing that can’t be denied.   He leaves the Buccaneers   in much better shape than when he arrived thirteen years ago.

He still believes in the Buccaneers and in closing had this to say:  “This defense will bounce back, Raheem Morris is an excitable guy but he knows what he’s doing. He really does. They’re going to be fine. Believe me. I don’t have to be here to fix it. They’ll get it fixed.”

For all of us in Tennessee….we would like to welcome Coach Kiffin and say that it’s is an honor to have one of the best Defensive coaches in the history of professional football standing on the sidelines as the crowd chants with great pride:  “It’s great to be a Tennessee Volunteer!”

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