Monte is '68 going on 48'

Age seems to be a recurring theme for the father/son coaching duo of Monte and Lane Kiffin.

At 33, Lane is seen by some observers as too young to be Tennessee's head football coach. At 68, Monte is seen by some as too old to be Tennessee's defensive coordinator.

Lane addressed concerns about his age when he was introduced as the Vols' new boss on Dec. 1, and Monte took a shot at his introductory news conference earlier today:

"Some people have said, 'Sixty-eight years old. Can you still coach at age 68?'"

Smiling playfully as he raised his voice for emphasis, Monte added: "Let me tell you something right now: I'm 68 going on 48. Some people are 68 going on 88. There's a difference."

Still, age came up again moments later when the elder Kiffin was asked about coaching youthful collegians vs. coaching seasoned NFL veterans.

"It doesn't matter what age you are," he replied. "It's about you.... You've got to have a great passion."

Calling his father "a very important hire," Lane noted that Monte "spent 13 years as defensive coordinator in Tampa. Eleven of those 13 years they were top 10 in defense in the NFL. That's never been done before in the history of the National Football League."

Since his last stint in college was as head coach at North Carolina State in 1982, Monte wryly conceded that he hasn't recruited in "a long time." Still, his reputation could make him a valuable asset on the recruiting trail, especially paired this week with newly hired Ed Orgeron, fresh from stints as head man at Ole Miss (2004-07) and defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints (2008).

Lane Kiffin said his dad and Orgeron will be peddling an enticing promise while visiting defensive prospects in the days ahead: "You will get coached for three or four years here better than you'll get coached anywhere in college football or anywhere in the NFL. They can say that. No one else at any other school can say what these guys can say."

The elder Kiffin said he and Orgeron will be in Memphis Monday morning pursuing that city's top prospects. NCAA rules prohibit mentioning prospects by name but it's obvious their first stop will be Harding Academy, home to superstar wide receiver Marlon Brown.

"I'm fired up," Monte Kiffin said. "We're going after the best people we can go after."

Showing that the Kiffins stick together, Monte went on to take a little dig at Steve Spurrier. South Carolina's head man made headlines last month by openly questioning whether Lane passed the NCAA recruiting exam before contacting prospects. Lane shot back that he made 39 out of 40 on the exam and wondered aloud what Spurrier had scored.

Monte clearly had that exchange in mind when he quipped: "I told a recruit the other day – it's legal ... I took the test ... don't worry about it – that 'You've got to come and take a look at this facility. It's outstanding.'"

Since Monte spent the past 26 years coaching in pro football, you have to wonder if his heralded "Tampa 2 scheme" will translate well into the college ranks. Monte is confident it will.

"I've been to a lot of clinics," he said. "I've been back to Nebraska (his alma mater) to help Frank Solich and Tom Osborne in different things. I have a pretty good feel for it."

During his days as head man at N.C. State, Kiffin's assistants included Pete Carroll, who has gone on to establish a budding dynasty at Southern Cal after a long stint in the NFL.

"I've seen Pete take it from the NFL to college," Monte said. "I relate more to Pete Carroll because we were together in pro football. He was in the league for 16 years, then he went back to USC.

"Football's football. It really is. There's a little bit more than just blocking and tackling but the field is the same length and width."

With a pause and a mischievous grin, the elder Kiffin added:

"The hash marks are a little different but we'll figure that out."

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