Los Angeles, CALIF. – After a historically rough season for USC and particularly its defense, it didn't necessarily come as a shock when defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin announced he is resigning.
Though hardly a surprise, USC players say it still wasn't easy to hear. The father of Coach Lane Kiffin, Monte has spent the last three seasons at Troy, providing a coaching experience his players say they'll never forget.
"It hit me right here," said junior cornerback Nickell Robey. "We had a long relationship with each other. He's been dealing with me since high school and just to see that happen, it was sad in a way. I don't wish for that to happen to any coach, all coaches, they work hard, they do their best to get guys to come here and get guys to represent the university and get guys to have fun and get them to the level that they need to go. Monte Kiffin does that and Coach Kiffin, he's a great guy."
"I was here with Monte since he first came in," senior safety Jawanza Starling said. "He's been instrumental in improving me as a player and he's been working with me extensively and extra off the field and I really appreciate that. It's kind of tough to see any kind of coaching change and adjusting to it, but I think that more than anything he loves football and he loves the guys. That's the main thing we'll remember and always keep in mind when it comes to Monte.
"It was tough," said senior safety T.J. McDonald. "I've been with him for three years and I've learned so much from him. I just want to make sure he knew I was appreciative of everything that we were able to accomplish since I've been here and the positions that he's put me in and everything. It's something that is unfortunate but at the same time, I've got to take a minute to respect the fact that he might have other opportunities. Everything he taught me, I definitely appreciate it.
Monte Kiffin's last game with the Trojans will be at the Sun Bowl.
And as far as sticking around to play a different role at USC? He says he wants to pursue opportunities back in the NFL.
Lane Kiffin said after practice this week, though he has a few guys in mind, an official search for a new defensive coordinator won't take place until after the Trojans return from their bowl game.