Monte Kiffin isn't the Cowboys defensive coordinator anymore, but he's as fired up as ever. Just ask him.
"I’m really excited. I’m really fired up," Kiffin said. "I’m not down one bit. I’m really not. I can’t coach that way. I wouldn’t stay here. If I didn’t feel right, if I knew I wasn’t going to contribute, and it wasn’t going to be a good situation, I promise you I would have moved on. I like it here. I like the head coach. But Rod [Marinelli] is the guy.
" Shoot, I’m fired up. The players are fired up. We’re all fired up. Take it one year at a time. If you don’t like your situation, move on. I’m serious. You signed a contract. …If I’m coaching, I’m going to coach my tail off."
Kiffin was hired a little over a year ago to oversee the team's transition from the 3-4 to the Tampa Two. But the Cowboys allowed 6,645 total yards, third-worst in NFL history.
The Cowboys demoted Kiffin to assistant head coach/defense and promoted defensive line coach Marinelli to defensive coordinator. Kiffin talked Friday for the first time since, insisting it wasn't a hard decision to stay after discussing his new role with Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Jason Garrett and Marinelli.
"It wasn’t like a one-day decision," Kiffin said. "We discussed it, ...and what the situation would be if I was to stay. It wasn’t a hard decision. It really wasn’t. I wasn’t going to go anywhere, as long as the situation was right. If it wasn’t right, I would have gone."
Kiffin and Marinelli worked together for 10 years in Tampa Bay, with Kiffin as the defensive coordinator and Marinelli as the defensive line coach. This season will mark their first stint together when Marinelli has final say.
"Monte’s been awesome," Marinelli said. "Let me tell you what: I think it’s important to state that I don’t think I’ve ever been around a guy that took a bump in the road, -- OK? took a bump – and his work habits have not changed. He’s here -- the first guy in the morning, last guy at night, working, how do we get this better? He’s all about winning. Of all the things he’s accomplished in his career, which is a lot, with all the wins, the Super Bowls, all those things, any young coach, any guy hits a bump in his life, instead of going in the tank, man up. And that’s what he’s done."
Kiffin, 74, will help with game-planning during the week and will continue to sit in the coaches' box upstairs during games.
-- Charean Williams