When Monte Kiffin spoke everybody listened. Well, they at least tried to. If anyone can remember hearing Monte Kiffin speak, it was likely that you either had your television turned up on full blast or you were leaning out of your seat towards the television, so far, you almost fell out of your seat. Kiffin was the whispering genius.
It’s known by virtually any player who has played for him that in the war room he would shout things like: “I’ve got it! I know how to beat these guys.” Then that statement would be followed by “psst, psst, psst.” because his excitement would turn to whispers. Almost like he wanted everyone to know he had the answers but didn’t want anyone but the team to know the details. Genius!
Kiffin’s genius comes from years of experience and years is quite the understatement. Half a century is more like it and actually it’s accurate. Kiffin started his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1966 at the University of Nebraska. He continued in college football for multiple teams in roles as head coach and defensive coordinator until his first NFL coaching job began in 1983. He started his NFL coaching journey as the linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers that year and then moved on to Buffalo to continue as their linebackers coach. He coached the linebacker position for multiple teams until 1991 when he became the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. After being bumped back down to linebackers coach the following season, Kiffin left the Vikings and went on to become the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints in 1995. That too was a short-lived but worked out in Tampa’s favor.
In 1996, Monte Kiffin became The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator and embarked upon a journey that would create what would be known as one of the best defenses of all time. The Tampa defense under Monte Kiffin was top ten in fewest yards allowed, over ten different times and his defense produced the top 10 in fewest points allowed over 11 times. Eventually, his defense would go on to produce one of the best ever performances in Super Bowl history and the only time Tampa has been in a Super bowl.
Monte Kiffin left the Buccaneers in 2009 and became a one-year defensive coordinator for the University of Tennessee. He went on from there to become the assistant head coach for the University of Southern California before returning to the NFL in 2013, as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. He was promoted the following season to assistant head coach of the Cowboys, before being away from the sport during the 2015 season. He once again returned to the NFL where he now is the defensive assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At the age of 76 years old, defensive guru Monte Kiffin has been around and seen just about everything football has to offer. Kiffin has been awarded the Paul Zimmerman Award, named for the writer who covered the NFL for 29 years as Sports Illustrated’s lead pro football writer. The award is given for the lifetime achievements of an assistant NFL coach. A great award for a great defensive mind, but somehow seems minuscule compared to the achievements Kiffin as made and who’s legacy is and will forever be, legend.