Nebraska connection: Monte Kiffin, Solich were teammates

Monte Kiffin was there at the beginning of his college playing career.

The Tennessee defensive coordinator was around to lend a hand when his coaching career started, and the coaching legend has continued to be a resource for Frank Solich since he took over at Ohio.

Kiffin has always been willing to help Solich since the two met at Nebraska more than 40 years ago, the former a two-way tackle at the end of his career and the latter a fullback just getting one started. But the Bobcats coach will surely be on his own trying to outsmart the master and the Vols (1-2) on Saturday (TV: PPV, 7 p.m.) at Neyland Stadium.

“Monte was such an easy guy to stay in touch with,” Solich said. “He was very open. I visited him when he was the defensive coordinator at Tampa Bay, their staff was great, allowed me to come in and spend a great deal of time with those guys, I sat in meetings with those guys.

“It all stems from having known Monte as well as I do, and obviously him being very open to helping us. … He’s been a tremendous help to our program.”

Kiffin might be an even bigger problem for it this week when he rolls out one of the nation’s best defenses against his old friend.

The Vols did everything but shut down Florida’s explosive offense last Saturday, and they certainly opened up some eyes by harassing quarterback Tim Tebow, forcing turnovers and keeping the Gators from hitting many of their trademark big plays. That might have been a breakout surprise nationally, but UT’s attention to detail certainly didn’t catch anybody off guard at Ohio.

“He’s always been a great coach, a bright coach, and he knows how to handle and motivate players,” Solich said. “Along with that, he has a tremendous work ethic along with being great (schematically), and so what you have is a guy that has all the bases covered.

“When his defenses line up, you see very few breakdowns because they know exactly what they’re doing and what they should be doing, and they’re going to be doing it Monte Kiffin’s way. That has proven out over the years to be a great way to play great defense and win football games.”

Some offensive troubles have kept Kiffin from winning more than one so far with the Vols, though the defense has certainly done more than its share.

All-American safety Eric Berry was a force from sideline to sideline against the Gators and finally came up with his first interception of the season. Janzen Jackson was trusted in his first road game to keep the football in front of him, and the freshman safety responded with the best game of his young career.

The defensive line continued to apply pressure without many blitzes backing them up, and the linebackers mostly were solid in their reads against an often confusing offense.

The assignments should be much easier for all of them Saturday against the Bobcats — though on offense the Vols will have to face a unit that’s also been under Kiffin influence before.

“While I was in high school coaching I spent a great deal of time with the Nebraska staff and staying in touch with those guys,” Solich said. “And we’ve called on Monte several times.

“We’ve had him in here to help us with our defensive thinking, I know (defensive coordinator) Jimmy Burrow has stayed in touch with Monte every year since we’ve been together here at Ohio.”

The Vols and Kiffin will be in close contact with the Bobcats again soon.

But this time it doesn’t figure to be so friendly.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 14

Cldvols1 writes:

Interesting, edge to Monte!

KnoxTennVol writes:

With as many years of experience as Monte has, who doesn't know Monte? This story seems to crop up with every game so far this year.

LargeOrange writes:

The man is a LEGEND, no less no more. He could walk into any NFL or College Team meeting and after hand shakes sit at the table and everyone would be like the Myrell Lynch commercials, everyone would be listening...

doubledown writes:

Merrill Lynch, I see you're in the market.

CRFVols writes:

What a legend....proud to have him. But isn't this the same song and dance over the last several years....the defense does great, keeps us in games while the offense struggles.

utvolz#637682 writes:

Orange swarm Saturday night Monte!

arkyvol writes:

wasn't solich the head coach at nebraska the last time the vols got drilled by that team?

WytheVol writes:

in response to arkyvol:

wasn't solich the head coach at nebraska the last time the vols got drilled by that team?

Yep... and Nebraska started this phooey of not giving a coach the time they need to develop their own system by firing him. They fired him after a 10-3 season. Solich is a damn good coach.

Orangeblood13 writes:

More useless babble from DaMan

blah blah blah blah

Razzle writes:

in response to DaMan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

D U M B !

xliveitup writes:

Monte Kiffin is a god among men.

LiveFaith writes:

"The Vols did everything but shut down Florida’s explosive offense last Saturday"

I to appreciate the Vols hard work at the defensive end Saturday, but that is about the dumbest thing I've read in a long time. Shutting them down was quite a ways off. They put up 23 points and could have added 10-15 more without to much problem.
KNS, please buy this guy a color TV at least.

imw8n4u writes:

What does he mean by "at the end of his career"? Monte looks like he still has plenty of energy and can keep going and going...

LargeOrange writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good point, I not only got the wrong company, but I misspelled it's name to boot. Somehow it looked right at 3:45 AM :-)

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.