By Joshua Joffrion
Tampa Bay — Monte Kiffin is headed for Rocky Top. He will be giving up his job as the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Bucs to join his son, Lane Kiffin's staff at the University of Tennessee.
Lane Kiffin was hired as Tennessee's new head football coach to replace former head coach Phillip Fulmer, Kiffin, the former Oakland Raiders head coach was fired earlier this year.
Monte Kiffin told reporters after the Bucs 13-10 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons, that he had made his decision the previous weekend and informed general manager Bruce Allen and the players last Wednesday.
"It was a very, very hard decision. ... When you've been in a place since 1996, you don't just jump ship," Kiffin said.
"I think we all respect his situation. We had a pretty good indication that he was going to join his son," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said Monday. "It's a great reunion, I think, for the Kiffin family. I'm happy for him."
Gruden said that the 65 year old's departure will not distract the Bucs, who are trying to make it into the playoffs. "We're going to finish this season. We have a lot of guys that are on the last year of their contract - players, coaches, that's league-wide," Gruden said.
Kiffin has built the Tampa Bay defense into one of the NFL's stoutest defenses since joining the team in 1996 and is expected to do no less for the Tennessee Volunteers.
The Vols need to once again become a force in the SEC with the uprisings of Ole Miss, Florida, LSU, and Alabama as college football superpowers, meanwhile the SEC looks to lock up its third consecutive National Championship title when Florida plays Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship game.