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American and football player and coach, Canadian football player

American football player
Monte Kiffin
Ole Miss Rebels
Position: Player personnel analyst
Personal information
Born: (1940-02-29) February 29, 1940 (age 82)
Lexington, Nebraska
Career information
High school: Lexington (NE)
College: Nebraska
NFL Draft: 1964 / Round: 15 / Pick: 202
Career history
As a player:
  • Minnesota Vikings (1964)
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1965)
  • Toronto Rifles (1966)
  • Brooklyn Dodgers (1966)
  Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
  • Nebraska (1966–1968)
    Graduate assistant
  • Nebraska (1969–1976)
    Defensive coordinator
  • Arkansas (1977–1978)
    Defensive coordinator
  • Arkansas (1979)
    Assistant head coach & defensive coordinator
  • North Carolina State (1980–1982)
    Head coach
  • Green Bay Packers (1983)
    Linebackers coach
  • Buffalo Bills (1984–1985)
    Linebackers coach
  • Minnesota Vikings (1986–1989)
    Linebackers coach
  • New York Jets (1990)
    Linebackers coach
  • Minnesota Vikings (1991)
    Defensive coordinator
  • Minnesota Vikings (1992–1994)
    Linebackers coach
  • New Orleans Saints (1995)
    Defensive coordinator
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996–2008)
    Defensive coordinator
  • Tennessee (2009)
    Defensive coordinator
  • USC (2010–2012)
    Assistant head coach
  • Dallas Cowboys (2013)
    Defensive coordinator
  • Dallas Cowboys (2014)
    Assistant head coach for defense
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (2016)
    Defensive assistant
  • Florida Atlantic (2017–2019)
    Defensive assistant
  • Ole Miss (2020–present)
    Player personnel analyst
Career highlights and awards
  • Super Bowl champion (XXXVII)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor
  • 2× College Football National Champion – Nebraska (1970, 1971)
Head coaching record
Regular season: NCAA: 16–17 (485)
Coaching stats at PFR

Monte George Kiffin (born February 29, 1940) is an American football coach He is currently a player personnel analyst at Ole Miss for his son, Lane Kiffin He is widely considered to be one of the preeminent defensive coordinators in modern football, as well as one of the greatest defensive coordinators in NFL history Father of the widely imitated “Tampa 2” defense, Kiffin’s concepts are among the most influential in modern college and pro football

Before taking the role as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, Kiffin served as assistant head coach for the University of Southern California where his son Lane Kiffin was named head coach on January 12, 2010, and before that he served under his son as the defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee Possibly due to the mounting pressure on his son’s poor coaching records, on November 29, 2012, Kiffin resigned from his position to pursue other opportunities in the NFL He previously served 26 years as an NFL assistant coach, including 13 years as defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he won Super Bowl XXXVII His defensive units have finished ranked in the top 10 in points allowed and yards allowed 10 times during that period, an NFL record

Kiffin was paid about $12 million per year by Tennessee He earned a reported $2 million annual salary from the Buccaneers and has turned down several NFL head coaching jobs during his career To this day, Kiffin’s only head coaching job was at North Carolina State University from 1980 to 1982


A native of Lexington, Nebraska, Kiffin was an offensive and defensive tackle at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln from 1959 to 1963 In 1966, he played 8 games with the Toronto Rifles of the Continental Football League and also was a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the same league After a brief stint as a defensive end for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Kiffin returned to Nebraska as a defensive coach Kiffin was a defensive assistant at Nebraska under legendary coach, Bob Devaney He coached the defenses of Nebraska’s 1970 and 1971 back-to-back undefeated national champion teams under coordinator Lance Van Zant After then offensive coordinator Tom Osborne was selected as the head coach in 1973, Monte was elevated to the defensive coordinator in 1974 In 1977, he moved to the University of Arkansas, and then in 1980, he got his one and only head coaching job at North Carolina State University

After his time at NC State, Kiffin began a series of short stints in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings (twice), New York Jets, and New Orleans Saints In 1996, he became the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers

After Tony Dungy was dismissed by the Buccaneer front office following the 2001 season, Kiffin was persuaded by incoming head coach Jon Gruden to remain in Tampa and continue to run his defense Kiffin had been interviewed for a head coaching position with the San Francisco 49ers With the seamless transition on defense allowing the new coaching staff to focus intently on a more potent offensive philosophy, the result was an immediate balance between offense and defense that carried the Buccaneers to the organization’s first championship in Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003 in San Diego, California

Controversy has surrounded Kiffin’s departure from Tampa Bay After Lane Kiffin signed with Tennessee, Tampa’s typically stout defense underperformed The Bucs lost their final four games of the 2008 season, ending up 9–7, and missed the playoffs Reports stated that Gruden refused to allow Kiffin to announce his departure to Tennessee mid-season Allegations were made that Kiffin refused to participate in normal coaching meetings Neither Kiffin nor Jon Gruden have openly discussed these events

Monte joined the University of Southern California coaching staff as defensive coordinator, after his son Lane Kiffin became the head coach

On January 11, 2013, following the 2012-13 NFL regular season, Kiffin was hired as defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys Kiffin was demoted on January 28, 2014 in favor of defensive line coach Rod Marinelli At the end of the 2014 season Kiffin’s contract was allowed to lapse, and it was not renewed by the Cowboys

Kiffin joined the Jacksonville Jaguars as a defensive assistant in March 2016

Defensive philosophy

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Monte Kiffin is the mastermind behind the Tampa 2 scheme, which is a slight modification of Tony Dungy’s Cover 2 His defensive philosophy has several hallmarks

  • Speed over size and strength Coordinators that employ Kiffin-style defenses will often replace linebackers with safeties in order to put more speed on the field In particular, linebackers must be able to cover receivers; in the Tampa 2 scheme, one linebacker frequently drops back deep into coverage, turning what looks like a Cover 2 defense into a Cover 3 Kiffin’s defenses also employ quick, penetrating defensive tackles
  • Preventing scores over preventing yardage A Kiffin coordinator doesn’t care how many yards an offense gains, as long as the team doesn’t score, an approach known as bend-but-don’t-break
  • Multiple defenses from one look Kiffin-style defenses try to use the same personnel (or the same kind of personnel) at all times, so that the offense cannot adjust its play call based on the alignment of the defensive personnel
  • Attacking and causing turnovers Kiffin-style defenses focus on getting the ball away from the offense by stripping the ball away from the ball carrier or reading the quarterback to make an interception The risk is that if the ball is not stripped or intercepted, then the ball carrier on offense has a better chance of gaining more yards or scoring; the reward is that the offensive drive is stopped without a score more often, frequently giving good field position

Personal life

Kiffin’s sons are both football coaches Elder son, Lane Kiffin, played football at Fresno State before entering coaching: becoming the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans, and Florida Atlantic Owls, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide and is currently the head coach at the University of Mississippi Younger son, Chris Kiffin, played football at Colorado State and is now the defensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
NC State Wolfpack (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1980–1982)
1980 NC State 6–5 3–3 3rd
1981 NC State 4–7 2–4 5th
1982 NC State 6–5 3–3 T–3rd
NC State: 16–17 8–10
Total: 16–17

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