Loss ends Monte's time in Tampa

Bucs stand behind Vols' new defensive coordinator

TAMPA, Fla. — As bad as Sunday’s season-ending loss was for Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was, the drive home figured to be even worse.

Alone in his thoughts, Kiffin knew he would surely realize the finality of an incredible run in Tampa which turned a perennial laughingstock to a Super Bowl champion and elevated him into one of the most highly respected coordinators in the history of the NFL.

“It’s one thing to lose when you’re coming back next year. I’ve done that before,” said Kiffin, who has accepted a position as the University of Tennessee’s defensive coordinator. “I get so fired up in the offseason (after a loss), I’d be in the office tomorrow watching tape.

“You can’t do that now.”

Instead Kiffin will meet with his Bucs’ players one last time on Monday. He’ll then join his son, Lane Kiffin, who was hired as UT’s new coach earlier this month.

The elder Kiffin carries to Knoxville the stigma of a defense that collapsed shortly after he told his players he would be leaving them at season’s end.

The Bucs weren’t terrible defensively even when they struggled this season. They just couldn’t get the stops that mattered most.

That was evident by Oakland’s two touchdown drives in the second quarter and two more such drives in the fourth quarter, which included a 67-yard touchdown run by Michael Bush.

Then there was the clock-killing, field goal drive that all but eliminated any chance for a Bucs’ comeback.

Since their 9-3 start, the Bucs’ defense has given up about 13 more points and 95 more rushing yards per game in the final month of the regular season. All that adds up to a 9-7 record, which turned out to be one win short of the playoffs.

“Well what do you say? I didn’t write a very good script, I’ll put it that way,” Kiffin said. “If I had to do it over again, it certainly wouldn’t be this way. The wheels just fell off.”

Despite being a pseudo-icon in the Tampa Bay sports community, Kiffin might be remembered by some as a short timer whose thoughts wandered elsewhere in his final days as a Buccaneer.

It’s a charge that Kiffin denies. He said he hasn’t called a single UT prospect and has remained focused on the Bucs.

Season-long statistics back his claim.

Despite the late collapse, the Bucs came into the final weekend of the regular season ranked ninth in total defense and seventh in points allowed, not Kiffin’s best year but respectable.

Kiffin refused to lay blame on his players or how they responded to his announcement that he was headed to UT.

“These players never let down. They really didn’t,” Kiffin said. “(Did players say) ‘Cause coach is going to Tennessee, we’re not going to play hard’ ? I don’t believe that. It just didn’t work out.”

Similarly, the Bucs supported their coach.

One defensive starter said he didn’t want his comments even associated with the theory that Kiffin’s announcement hurt the Bucs.

Another, linebacker Derrick Brooks, said that the local media is the only group making such assertions about Kiffin’s departure.

“You guys chose to say that,” Brooks said. “We don’t choose to take that approach.”

The Bucs came out with the type of approach one would expect of a highly motivated team. Oakland looked befuddled on its first three drives on Sunday, gaining only 27 yards and one first down, which came via a penalty.

“I thought they did great, especially early on,” center Jeff Faine said of his much-maligned offensive counterparts. “As much as the offense was shooting themselves in the foot, for them to keep us in the game and really kind of bail us out, I thought they did great.”

Then things got bad. And Kiffin took full blame.

“Coach Gruden didn’t lose that football game today,” Kiffin said, referring to Bucs’ head coach Jon Gruden’s offense. “Put that one on coach Kiff.”

It’s not often that an assistant coach’s departure causes such a commotion as Kiffin’s did.

Kiffin was the subject of several farewell media features and the most popular post-game interviewee on Sunday.

Kiffin wasn’t completely comfortable with all of that.

“It’s really not about me. It’s not about Tennessee, with all due respect to them,” Kiffin said. “It’s about 13 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a great run.”

One didn’t have to be coached by Kiffin to understand what he meant to the Tampa Bay area. Just ask longtime Bucs running back Warrick Dunn.

“Monte has meant everything to this franchise and its turnaround,” Dunn said.

It’s the next turnaround that the Bucs will have to handle without Kiffin – and that’s what stings the most.

“The hardest thing right now is you can’t come back with these players,” Kiffin said. “We’ve always fixed it. I just want to go back and start again - these last four weeks. But you can’t do that.

“You have to move on. That’s life. All I can say is I’ll always love the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’m sure there’s a lot of people that are wishing that Kiff takes the first bus to Tennessee.”

Including the Vols.

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Comments » 223

tngivem6 writes:

Welcome to the Big Orange, Coach Kiff

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

2 days until the recruits start pouring in.

MarineDad writes:

Gott a love Monte Kiffin's philosophy regarding defensive rankings/statistics:

“We never mentioned the ranking all year long. Sixteen weeks, I never even tell the defense. They may read the paper but we don't even talk about where we're ranked because the most important thing is winning. At the end of the year it is an accomplishment. They should be proud of it.” -- Monte Kiffin, quote not dated

lilesrt writes:

Come on over Coach Kiff! We need you now more than ever! This is so exciting! Hey what's the latest on Ed Orgeron?

suPEARLman writes:

I just recently moved to central Florida and to see the TB's fans reaction to his departure really gave me a great impression on this guy's impact on a team(aside from his stats and previous accomplishments of course).

Can't wait to see him sporting that beautiful orange soon!

yeavols#228407 writes:

What a relief..sorry for the Bucs though. I suppose he will be recruiting now this last month before signing day?

Berry14 writes:

Is it just me or does Monte sound a little depressed?

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to sweeten_159#646196:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Latest rumours posted on the Trojan blog dated Dec 22:

Slutak's predecessor, Mark Jackson, recently accepted a job at Tennessee under former USC assistant Lane Kiffin after working two years with the Raiders.

Former USC assistant coach Ed Orgeron is expected to become associate head coach and defensive line coach at Tennessee.

I don't know how true, but it does make sense that Orgeron will be looking for the highest pay given his position. Not sure if Tennessee will pay what he's asking. Some say he will stay with the Saints. I guess we'll find out when Kiffin gives us the next wave of hirees.

ncvol writes:

Sorry about the loss,Monte.I know that was disappointing to you...Welcome to UT...Go Vols!

max357_2000 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

1st what? welcom aboard coach!

DennisVols writes:

“Coach Gruden didn’t lose that football game today,” Kiffin said, referring to Bucs’ head coach Jon Gruden’s offense. “Put that one on coach Kiff.”

This is what we've been waiting for. A stand up coach who takes responsibility and doesn't pass the blame to the players or other coaches.
This new staff can be successful. No one knows how soon, but it will be going forward instead of backward.

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to DennisVols:

“Coach Gruden didn’t lose that football game today,” Kiffin said, referring to Bucs’ head coach Jon Gruden’s offense. “Put that one on coach Kiff.”

This is what we've been waiting for. A stand up coach who takes responsibility and doesn't pass the blame to the players or other coaches.
This new staff can be successful. No one knows how soon, but it will be going forward instead of backward.

You are easily impressed.

How many wins the next 2 years will impress you?

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

You are easily impressed.

How many wins the next 2 years will impress you?

What's that passive aggressive love tap about? I thought he was pretty much on target. He was simply stating how Monte Kiffin takes responsibility and doesn't shift blame to others which is a breath of fresh air.

madvillevol writes:

in response to yeavols#228407:

Latest rumours posted on the Trojan blog dated Dec 22:

Slutak's predecessor, Mark Jackson, recently accepted a job at Tennessee under former USC assistant Lane Kiffin after working two years with the Raiders.

Former USC assistant coach Ed Orgeron is expected to become associate head coach and defensive line coach at Tennessee.

I don't know how true, but it does make sense that Orgeron will be looking for the highest pay given his position. Not sure if Tennessee will pay what he's asking. Some say he will stay with the Saints. I guess we'll find out when Kiffin gives us the next wave of hirees.

What would Mark Jackson's posistion be here if this is true??

lilesrt writes:

600 k for coach Orgeron? That is alot of money. I really want Coach Orgeron in Knoxville but if he is asking for that kind of money and we give it to him he better produce. Is it just me or is it getting harder and harder to stay patient. I want to hear some updates! Can I get an Amen!???

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to yeavols#228407:

What's that passive aggressive love tap about? I thought he was pretty much on target. He was simply stating how Monte Kiffin takes responsibility and doesn't shift blame to others which is a breath of fresh air.

Wasn't trying to be passive. A coach taking blame is not that unique. Just curious how high expectations are on the new guy based on how high they were on the last coach?

TommyJack writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

You are easily impressed.

How many wins the next 2 years will impress you?

Hey Rabid. Read carefully. Phil is gone. And not a minute too soon.

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to madvillevol:

What would Mark Jackson's posistion be here if this is true??

He is the Director of Football Development (Football Administrator). Not sure what that entails though. Apparently he has a history of coaching, too.

blitzshoot writes:

I was at the game and it just seemed like the defense was just going through the motions. I will always believe that the last guy I want to see on the opposite sidelines in Coach Monte Kiffin. There is no doubt his defense loves him and were effected by his departure.

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Hey Rabid. Read carefully. Phil is gone. And not a minute too soon.

I read carefully, but don't get your point.

Phil is gone becuase he didn't live up to high expectations. I'm just discussing what those expectations might be for CLh?

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to lilesrt:

600 k for coach Orgeron? That is alot of money. I really want Coach Orgeron in Knoxville but if he is asking for that kind of money and we give it to him he better produce. Is it just me or is it getting harder and harder to stay patient. I want to hear some updates! Can I get an Amen!???

LOL...one thing is for sure..they weren't kidding when they labeled this the "DEAD PERIOD"

ect1983 writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

Wasn't trying to be passive. A coach taking blame is not that unique. Just curious how high expectations are on the new guy based on how high they were on the last coach?

You are right..."A coach taking blame is not that unique "......but only in places other than Knoxville,TN. I can only recall reading about the coach taking blame once in 16 years (Florida, this year). Otherwise....well, let's just say that for this town, the coach taking the blame has not occured very often.

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

I read carefully, but don't get your point.

Phil is gone becuase he didn't live up to high expectations. I'm just discussing what those expectations might be for CLh?

oh..guess I didn't get your point about expectations in your first post. But to answer your question, I don't think expectations are any higher for Kiffin than what was placed on Fulmer..heck we just want to have a winning season..=)

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to ect1983:

You are right..."A coach taking blame is not that unique "......but only in places other than Knoxville,TN. I can only recall reading about the coach taking blame once in 16 years (Florida, this year). Otherwise....well, let's just say that for this town, the coach taking the blame has not occured very often.

I don't have time to search the internet for you, but your memory is quite selective.

But that's the past, so it doesn't matter. Again, I'm just curious what the expectations are for the new coach?

knucklehead_vol writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

Wasn't trying to be passive. A coach taking blame is not that unique. Just curious how high expectations are on the new guy based on how high they were on the last coach?

how about the expectations for the last coaches expectations before he was new the new coach before that last coach?

TommyJack writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

I read carefully, but don't get your point.

Phil is gone becuase he didn't live up to high expectations. I'm just discussing what those expectations might be for CLh?

My bad. The expectations are high...as they should be.

volfan1967 writes:

I would be highly disapointed if we don't have at least 7 wins in 2009. And not surprised if we have 10.... The talent is there the staff just has to know how to use it and I belive this staff does... GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DennisVols writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

I read carefully, but don't get your point.

Phil is gone becuase he didn't live up to high expectations. I'm just discussing what those expectations might be for CLh?

Those expectations would be to make improvements both in the win/loss column and in off-field issues.
Do I expect a 12-0 regular season next year? NO
What I do expect to see is a team that doesn't quit (see UF game 07-08, UA 07-08) makes fewer mental errors(see UF 07-08, UGA 08, UCLA 08, UA 08, AU 08, UW 08).
So the true expections should be improvements, no perfection, improvements in player development as well.
None of this would have happened had UT not made the change. It had not happened in 10 years. Highly rated recuriting classes that never developed into highly rated teams.
98 was a great season but you know what it is history and one can not live in the past. We are required to live in the present so we may have a future.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

1st what? 1st dweeb.

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to DennisVols:

Those expectations would be to make improvements both in the win/loss column and in off-field issues.
Do I expect a 12-0 regular season next year? NO
What I do expect to see is a team that doesn't quit (see UF game 07-08, UA 07-08) makes fewer mental errors(see UF 07-08, UGA 08, UCLA 08, UA 08, AU 08, UW 08).
So the true expections should be improvements, no perfection, improvements in player development as well.
None of this would have happened had UT not made the change. It had not happened in 10 years. Highly rated recuriting classes that never developed into highly rated teams.
98 was a great season but you know what it is history and one can not live in the past. We are required to live in the present so we may have a future.

The last time we had a losing season we won 9 games the next year and 10 the next, including an SEC east championship.

My expectations start there for the next 2 years.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to tngivem6:

Welcome to the Big Orange, Coach Kiff

He's seen orange before. Just hope he doesn't talk Lane into turning us bronze.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to PepperGrinder:

2 days until the recruits start pouring in.

You're delusional.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to sweeten_159#646196:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agreed!

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to DennisVols:

“Coach Gruden didn’t lose that football game today,” Kiffin said, referring to Bucs’ head coach Jon Gruden’s offense. “Put that one on coach Kiff.”

This is what we've been waiting for. A stand up coach who takes responsibility and doesn't pass the blame to the players or other coaches.
This new staff can be successful. No one knows how soon, but it will be going forward instead of backward.

The prior Coach took the blame too, he just did it too much recently. What we've been waiting for? Try Championships.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to DennisVols:

“Coach Gruden didn’t lose that football game today,” Kiffin said, referring to Bucs’ head coach Jon Gruden’s offense. “Put that one on coach Kiff.”

This is what we've been waiting for. A stand up coach who takes responsibility and doesn't pass the blame to the players or other coaches.
This new staff can be successful. No one knows how soon, but it will be going forward instead of backward.

How soon? He gets 2 years.

volfan1967 writes:

09/05/09 vs. Western Kentucky Knoxville, Tenn.=W 09/12/09 vs. UCLA Knoxville, Tenn.=W
09/19/09 at Florida * Gainesville, Fla.=L
09/26/09 vs. Ohio Knoxville, Tenn.=W
10/03/09 vs. Auburn * Knoxville, Tenn.=W
10/10/09 vs. Georgia * Knoxville, Tenn.=W
10/24/09 at Alabama * Tuscaloosa, Ala.-L
10/31/09 vs. South Carolina * Knoxville, Tenn.-W
11/07/09 vs. Memphis Knoxville, Tenn.-W
11/14/09 at Mississippi * Oxford, Miss.=W?
11/21/09 vs. Vanderbilt * Knoxville, Tenn.=W
11/28/09 at Kentucky * Lexington, Ky.-W
That is what I exspect and I think it is very possible..... GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He's got 2 years.

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to volfan1967:

09/05/09 vs. Western Kentucky Knoxville, Tenn.=W 09/12/09 vs. UCLA Knoxville, Tenn.=W
09/19/09 at Florida * Gainesville, Fla.=L
09/26/09 vs. Ohio Knoxville, Tenn.=W
10/03/09 vs. Auburn * Knoxville, Tenn.=W
10/10/09 vs. Georgia * Knoxville, Tenn.=W
10/24/09 at Alabama * Tuscaloosa, Ala.-L
10/31/09 vs. South Carolina * Knoxville, Tenn.-W
11/07/09 vs. Memphis Knoxville, Tenn.-W
11/14/09 at Mississippi * Oxford, Miss.=W?
11/21/09 vs. Vanderbilt * Knoxville, Tenn.=W
11/28/09 at Kentucky * Lexington, Ky.-W
That is what I exspect and I think it is very possible..... GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!

Ok by me. I'd trade any other W for one over the Tide though.

BigOrangeVol writes:

“Well what do you say? I didn’t write a very good script, I’ll put it that way. If I had to do it over again, it certainly wouldn’t be this way. The wheels just fell off...We’ve always fixed it. I just want to go back and start again”

Déjà vu

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to lilesrt:

600 k for coach Orgeron? That is alot of money. I really want Coach Orgeron in Knoxville but if he is asking for that kind of money and we give it to him he better produce. Is it just me or is it getting harder and harder to stay patient. I want to hear some updates! Can I get an Amen!???

Coach O isn't a good choice.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Hey Rabid. Read carefully. Phil is gone. And not a minute too soon.

Yes. But was the new guy the right choice? That's the next debate.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to ect1983:

You are right..."A coach taking blame is not that unique "......but only in places other than Knoxville,TN. I can only recall reading about the coach taking blame once in 16 years (Florida, this year). Otherwise....well, let's just say that for this town, the coach taking the blame has not occured very often.

Wow. We've had 2 losing seasons in 15+ years. I wonder why you haven't heard it? Taking blame was not the issue. It's about Championships.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to yeavols#228407:

oh..guess I didn't get your point about expectations in your first post. But to answer your question, I don't think expectations are any higher for Kiffin than what was placed on Fulmer..heck we just want to have a winning season..=)

Winning season won't cut it. Championships.

knucklehead_vol writes:

in response to 7_Game_Maxims:

Yes. But was the new guy the right choice? That's the next debate.

i believe you who live in the past have already been having this debate since 12/01.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

I don't have time to search the internet for you, but your memory is quite selective.

But that's the past, so it doesn't matter. Again, I'm just curious what the expectations are for the new coach?

High.

7_Game_Maxims writes:

in response to knucklehead_vol:

how about the expectations for the last coaches expectations before he was new the new coach before that last coach?

Nowhere near the same.

DennisVols writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

The last time we had a losing season we won 9 games the next year and 10 the next, including an SEC east championship.

My expectations start there for the next 2 years.

I don't recall winning the As a matter of fact it isn't and we lost the SEC CHAMPIONSHIP to LSU. Getting to that game is good, lossing it 5 times straight isn't. 2nd place is just 1st losser.
The lossing season you refered to was a season in which UT stacked with talent and was projected to win the SEC and have a chance at a NC so we basically lost the SEC championship that year as well.
The expections should be as I stated before, improvements in all areas to include player development. This years team had 2 top 10 recruiting classes in it as did the 05 team.
We have done less with more than any team in the SEC the last 10 seasons.

DennisVols writes:

I don't recall winning the EAST as a CHAMPIONSHIP

knucklehead_vol writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

we don't have high expectations...look at the past seven years...

yeavols#228407 writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

The last time we had a losing season we won 9 games the next year and 10 the next, including an SEC east championship.

My expectations start there for the next 2 years.

Sorry Pal...no dice..we have to rebuild after an 8 year decline. Better re-adjust your expectations.

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