IRVING, Texas -- Three days after firing Rob Ryan, the Dallas Cowboys have hired Monte Kiffin as their new defensive coordinator, the team announced Friday.
Kiffin, who turns 73 in February, last month resigned as the defensive coordinator at USC, where his son, Lane, is the coach.
He spent 26 years as an NFL assistant coach, including a 13-year run as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator before returning to college football in 2009.
"I came away from the interview process with Jason (Garrett) with a feeling that Dallas is the right place to be," Kiffin said. "He has this team headed in the right direction."
When he left the Trojans, he cited a desire to return to the NFL.
The Buccaneers finished in the top 10 in total defense and scoring defense in 11 of Kiffin's 13 years and won the Super Bowl in 2002.
Kiffin will have to retool a defense that has been in a 3-4 scheme since 2005 and might lose outside linebacker Anthony Spencer to free agency.
"Obviously, that scheme will offer some changes to our defensive approach moving forward," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "I have spent the better part of the past two days in conversation with Monte regarding those changes, and we feel very good about our personnel being able to fit the philosophy.
"I know Monte from spending time together with him with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had a chance to see him coach up close on a day-to-day basis. His ability to teach everything -- from the smallest fundamental details to the big picture of the overall defensive scheme -- was always very impressive to me."
He also likely will have to rework the coaching staff. Defensive line coach Brian Baker, linebacker coach Matt Eberflus, secondary coach Jerome Henderson and assistant secondary coach Joe Baker are all under contract but, according to sources, will have to reinterview to remain.
"If he didn't feel he could get it done with Dallas, and some of the personnel, he wouldn't have taken the job," former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks told ESPNDallas.com. "However, I do know with their current roster, just looking at the size of players and the style of play that we played in, there's going to have to be some changes in terms of who they bring in to do what and a different mind-set. "
Ryan was fired Tuesday after a two-year run with the Cowboys, who finished 19th in the NFL on defense this season and allowed a franchise-record high 5,687 yards and forced a franchise-record low 16 turnovers.