New Challenge for Old School Kiffin

The veteran NFL assistant whose Tampa 2 coverage was widely duplicated throughout the professional ranks will be spending back-to-back seasons in college football, something he hasn't done since 1980-82 at NC State.

There was something oddly familiar about Monte Kiffin's first day back in college football.

"We start practice, defense down there, offense over here and start chopping through those five bags," he said. "Boom, boom, boom, everybody's chopping through.

"I said, ‘Did you learn that from Pete Carroll?' Let me tell you something, Pete Carroll learned that at Arkansas when he was 25 years old and a GA with Monte Kiffin. Lane didn't even know that."

And now, the elder Kiffin comes full circle. His protégée, Pete Carroll, built USC into a power using many of the same philosophies and techniques he developed. Now Monte, working under his son Lane – mentored by Carroll as he was by Monte – will get to install them first-hand.

The veteran NFL assistant whose Tampa 2 coverage was widely duplicated throughout the professional ranks will be spending back-to-back seasons in college football, something he hasn't done since 1980-82 at NC State.

The toughest transition? Dealing with limitations on players' time.

"The 20-hour rule killed me," Kiffin said. "I love coaching, I love teaching. In the pros, everyone has got to show up at 7 in the morning. Even in the offseason, we're still talking and watching tape. You don't do that, so you really have to budget your time.

"And then the recruiting comes into it. You don't have to recruit in the pros. I coached there for a long time before I went to the pros. I love it both."

With seven defenders that started in the Chick-fil-A Bowl returning, Kiffin admitted that aspect made it difficult to uproot from Knoxville.

"We had a good team coming back, especially coaching defense and you're putting in your system," he said. Next year, you get better because the linebackers know what they're doing and the secondary can check calls. That's all communication, same way they audible at the line of scrimmage with the quarterback. Now you got to start all over."

However, the chance for Lane to return to what he considered his home and dream job was too much to pass up. Monte compared it to a chance to lead his alma mater.

"I love Nebraska," Kiffin said. "I'm a Husker from the get, I was born and raised it. I went down and watched the games when I was a kid. They said, "Monte you can have the job at Nebraska," I would have went to the University of Nebraska. And I loved Tennessee, so it's just a unique situation."

Sure to please Trojan fans, after watching Carroll's usually formidable defense get shredded by Oregon and Stanford late last season, was Kiffin's guarantee of an improved unit.

"We have a rule," he said. "First rule of getting better is show up. That's the first thing I tell the team. You can't get better if you don't show up. I'm talking about showing up when you know you don't have to be there. But if you show up, you better have a good teacher. If you just show up and don't care how you're getting coached, I wouldn't show up either.

"You show up here, you're going to get better I promise you."


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