Ex-Buc Kiffin excited over Smith's return

Published Jan. 22, 2014

MOBILE, Ala. — Count former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin among those thrilled to see Lovie Smith, his former assistant, back in Tampa as the Bucs' head coach.

Kiffin remembers when the Bucs first interviewed Smith —then Ohio State's defensive backs coach — for an assistant's spot on Tony Dungy's original Tampa Bay staff in 1996. Smith was interviewed by Kiffin and Dungy in Tampa, then again at the NFL combine in Indianapolis

"The first time, we said 'Good golly!' because he was that good," Kiffin said.

"He just took off. He's a great coach and great person, very, very genuine. You can be a good person and not be a good coach. You can be a great coach and kind of be a jerk. He's really special."

Kiffin, currently the Cowboys defensive coordinator, said he talked to his former assistant extensively during Smith's year off from coaching and later about the possibility of him returning to Tampa.

Kiffin is also happy to see one of his former players, Hardy Nickerson, working as Smith's linebackers coach.

Kiffin worked alongside Smith's son, Mikal, this past year when he was the Cowboys' nickelbacks coach.

Kiffin said he interviewed new Bucs defensive line coach Joe Cullen for the Cowboys staff last year, and passed on him because he was able to hire former Bucs assistant Rod Marinelli.

There's one more Kiffin connection to the new Bucs staff — his son Lane played quarterback from 1994-96 under Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford while at Fresno State, then got his first coaching job as an assistant on Tedford's staff in 1997.

"I'm really excited. I'm excited for all the Tampa Bay fans, for the whole organization, but especially for Lovie," Kiffin said.

THIS AND THAT: Former Armwood and Florida OL Matt Patchan, who finished his career at Boston College, was added to the Senior Bowl roster. … Oklahoma CB Aaron Colvin tore the ACL in his right knee in Tuesday's drills. … Miami QB Stephen Morris was excited at the chance to work with former Hurricanes coordinator Jedd Fisch, now in the same role with the Jaguars, who are coaching the South. Alas, he's playing for the North. "I guess nowadays Miami's on the northern side of the United States," Morris joked. … Former Bucs QB and executive Doug Williams, who was fired as Grambling's coach in November, met with the Redskins in Mobile about a personnel job, CBS Sports reported. … Florida State LB Christian Jones drew praise from Jaguars coach Gus Bradley for his pass-rush skills after Tuesday's practice.