If you want to be convinced that Monte Kiffin is the right man for the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator job, just give Larry Lacewell a call.
That’s something Jerry Jones does on a regular basis, by the way.
Lacewell, the former Cowboys scouting director who remains a member of Jerry’s unofficial advisory committee, readily admits that he has a “man crush” on the 72-year-old Kiffin. The Cowboys met with Kiffin at Valley Ranch on Thursday, and Lacewell assumes his old friend will officially become Rob Ryan’s replacement soon. (UPDATE: Sources said the deal is done.)
“Frankly, I think it’s the best hire the Cowboys have ever made,” Lacewell told ESPNDallas.com on Friday morning. “Well, other than Jimmy [Johnson].”
Lacewell completely dismisses the mediocre results Kiffin got as the defensive coordinator on his son Lane’s USC staff, saying Kiffin did the best he could do despite talent issues that stem in part from NCAA-sanctioned recruiting restrictions. Lacewell, who visited USC last summer during an off day in the Cowboys’ training camp, said Kiffin is as passionate and energetic as ever.
In other words, Lacewell believes Kiffin is still the same guy whose defenses were dominant during his 13-year tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kiffin was considered a legendary NFL defensive coordinator when he left Tampa to join his son in the college ranks.
Tampa Bay ranked among the NFL’s top 10 in scoring defense 11 times and total defense 12 times under Kiffin. The Bucs were top five in both categories six times, including a double No. 1 overall rank during their Super Bowl championship season.
“To fall into Monte Kiffin is just a gift,” said Lacewell, who used Kiffin as a sounding board when Mike Zimmer copied his scheme with the Cowboys. “To pull this off is just a coup. Whoever thought of this was real smart.”