With Lane Kiffin apparently surviving a season full of disappointments and distractions, it was thought that somebody on his staff would be forced to fall on the sword.
That person, it was widely believed, would ultimately be Kiffin’s father. In the end, that’s precisely what happened.
The Trojans announced Thursday night that Monte Kiffin will step down from his position as assistant head coach following the team’s bowl game this season. The school stated that the 73-year-old coach was resigning to pursue opportunities at the NFL level.
“I respect my father’s decision and his desire to return to the NFL,” the younger Kiffin said in a statement. “We are very appreciative of the hard work and effort that he put in at USC these past three years. He has a tremendous passion for coaching young men and he is a phenomenal recruiter.
“The timing of this allows us to move forward now in the hiring of a new coach.”
Monte Kiffin spent the past three seasons as part of his son’s staff, coming to the Trojans as one of the most respected defensive minds at any level. Prior to his time at USC and his one season with the Tennessee Vols, he had spent the previous 26 seasons at the NFL level, the last 14 as defensive coordinator.
A season that began with high expectations, though, ended with the Trojans on the outside of both the conference and BcS windows looking in, thanks in large part to a sieve-like defense. USC yielded 178 points while losing four of its final five games this season, plummeting out of the Top 25 after beginning the year at No. 1.
“I wanted to make this announcement now so that our players who are preparing for the bowl game and our recruits who will be visiting campus are aware,” said Kiffin. “I really enjoyed my time at USC and the opportunity I had to work with our players and coaches. The chance to work for my son, Lane, was unique and memorable, but we always treated each other professionally on a coach-to-coach basis.
“Although things didn’t always go as well as we would have liked this year from a defensive and win-loss standpoint, I will leave USC with the utmost respect for the University, the Trojan Family and, most importantly, the players I had the good fortune to coach. I see great things ahead for the USC football program.”
There’s no early word yet on which direction Kiffin will head in replacing his father.