KIFFIN CONFIRMS HE’S LEAVING BUCS
Posted by Mike Florio on December 14, 2008, 5:53 p.m.
Long-time Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has confirmed that he’ll be leaving the Bucs after the season to join his son, Lane, at the University of Tennessee.
“I made the decision last weekend and I went back and forth,” Kiffin said after Sunday’s 13-10 overtime loss in Atlanta, according to Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times. “It was a very, very hard decision because of players, our fans. When you’ve been in a place since 1996, you don’t just jump ship. I’ve had other opportunities. There was one that came up last year that was a great opportunity and people don’t even know for sure about the whole thing . But I stayed here, decided to sign back up for two years. But the club was very good about giving me the option to go with my son.”
There had been intense speculation and rumor of that the move would occur after the younger Kiffin landed in Knoxville. Coach Jon Gruden and G.M. Bruce Allen previously ducked the issue, deferring to Kiffin.
“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 Bruce. Jon 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.’”
Kiffin is under contract with Tampa Bay through 2009, but the team apparently is willing to release him. As we recently explained, the thinking in league circles is that the Bucs wouldn’t keep Kiffin from leaving, given the intense criticism the franchise received a couple of year ago for refusing to allow defensive assistant Joe Barry to join his father-in-law, Rod Marinelli, as defensive coordinator of the Lions.
The close ties between Gruden and the University of Tennessee likely contributed to the decision to let Kiffin leave. Gruden was an assistant coach at UT early in his career, and he met his wife (a former Volunteers cheerleader) in Knoxville.