Former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's presence was still felt around the halls of One Buccaneer Place this offseason, even months after he left the Tampa Bay organization to take a job on his son Lane's coaching staff with the Tennessee Volunteers.
It turns out Kiffin was a regular visitor at One Buc Place this offseason, stopping by the Bucs training facility to chat and talk football with some of his friends and former colleagues, including head coach Raheem Morris, linebackers coach Joe Barry and defensive line coach Todd Wash, among others.
"It's like anybody that has been part of our history," Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said when asked why Kiffin was visiting One Buc Place this offseason. "If I could convince Tony Dungy to take a tour of the facility I would do that. The same with Lee Roy Selmon, who has been here for a few practices. Monte has been a big part of what we've done here, so anytime he wants to come out he's welcome. He just came here, hung around a little bit and we talked some shop."
Kiffin, who served as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator from 1996-2008, was the mastermind behind the "Tampa 2" scheme that ranked in the top 10 in 11 of his 13 seasons with the Bucs.
However, Kiffin's decision to announce he was leaving the Bucs late last season was controversial in nature. Tampa Bay's defense, which ranked ninth overall in 2009, played a significant role in the team's December collapse, allowing nearly 800 yards rushing against its final four opponents.
That December collapse led to the firing of head coach Jon Gruden and G.M. Bruce Allen, who were replaced by Morris and Dominik, respectively.
Although Morris, who was named Kiffin's successor in December before being promoted to head coach in January, assembled a new coaching staff that features two new coordinators in Jeff Jagodzinski (offense) and Jim Bates (defense), the Bucs stressed that Kiffin was not brought into One Buc Place to help the youngest head coach in the NFL and his two new coordinators with the transition.
"It was more of Monte just being here and hanging out," said Dominik. "It had nothing to do with what we're doing on the field. He was just coming here to do his own thing and talk to some coaches. It wasn't a transition-type thing, it was just Monte was in town and he came by to visit a few times."
Tampa Bay is scheduled to play the Tennessee Titans in its first preseason game of 2009 on Saturday night. The Bucs will be busy traveling to – and preparing for – that exhibition game, but they might return the favor and pay a visit to Kiffin while they're in Tennessee if they find the time.
"I would love to visit Monte," said Dominik. "We're actually looking at the schedule now, and we think [director of college scouting] Dennis Hickey will be there. I think he's heading there if they're open, and then he's going to catch the game, and I'll certainly do that if my schedule allows me to."