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Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin could be walking into a hornets’ nest or adding to one if he still plans on attending Sunday’s NFL game in Tampa, Fla., between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders.
Kiffin’s father, Monte Kiffin, is the Bucs’ defensive coordinator and has agreed to join his son’s staff as defensive coordinator when the season ends.
Lane Kiffin was fired by the Raiders on Sept. 30, just four games into his second season as coach.
MrSEC.com reported this week that Monte Kiffin has told his son not to come to the game because his presence would serve as a distraction.
Lane Kiffin in multiple interviews has described his time with the Raiders as dysfunctional.
Things with the Raiders got even more strained on Dec. 15 when Kiffin hired Raiders assistant offensive line coach James Cregg with two games left in the season.
Raiders interim coach Tom Cable’s was upset with the timing. He labeled Cregg a quitter and said Kiffin should have waited two more weeks.
“To do this is ridiculous,” Cable said at the time. “It’s wrong.”
On the same day, Cable dismissed two Kiffin hires: football administrator Mark Jackson, who worked with Kiffin at Southern California and who was the best man at his wedding, and office assistant Steve Reaves, Kiffin’s brother-in-law.
On Monday, Kiffin was on the radio, discussing his new job with syndicated host Jim Rome. He mostly talked about recruiting and the addition of Monte Kiffin to his staff. But Kiffin predictably spent a few minutes rehashing his time with the Raiders, going over the important lessons he learned in crisis management and how “sad” he found owner Al Davis’ performance at the press conference.
Davis fired Kiffin “for cause,” using an overhead projector to state his case for not paying Kiffin the remainder of his contract.
Kiffin later filed a grievance with the league office seeking compensation for the remainder of this season and next season. The case remains under review.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat was checking the pulse of the Raiders’ locker room following Lane Kiffin’s radio appearance. One of Kiffin’s primary whipping boys, tackle Mario Henderson, discussed his solid performance against Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams of the Houston Texans last Sunday. The second-year player also talked about Kiffin’s steady criticism.
“I took it all as motivation,” Henderson told the newspaper. “I had been through that before. I only started one year at Florida State. I kind of been through the roller-coaster ride. I was just learning that I can only do what I can do.”
Asked if he was excited about the prospect of going up against Monte Kiffin, Henderson told the newspaper: “Yeah. Anything to help the Raiders get back at the Kiffin family, I’m all for it.”
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden insists he has no ill will toward his former employer. Davis essentially traded Gruden to the Bucs for cash in 2002.
He’s not so sure about Monte Kiffin.
“That was obviously sudden and traumatic, I guess, from a football standpoint of what occurred,” Gruden said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters about Lane Kiffin’s firing. “But I can’t comment for Coach Kiff.”
Davis said Lane Kiffin wanted to hire his father as defensive coordinator with the Raiders in place of Rob Ryan after last season. Gruden said he had little communication with Lane Kiffin while he battled Davis and that he didn’t offer much advice before Lane accepted the job.