IRVING, Texas — Monte Kiffin quietly entered the Dallas Cowboys’ team headquarters at Valley Ranch at 7:45 a.m. CT on Thursday.
He was accompanied by head coach Jason Garrett, and spent the day at the facility discussing with owner Jerry Jones and staff the likelihood being hired as the team’s new defensive coordinator, sources tell Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan.
Just two days after Rob Ryan’s firing — and two days after having a “short list” with multiple names on it — the Cowboys have narrowed their search with a focus on the 72-year-old Kiffin, known for his mastery of the 4-3 defense and his creation of what’s come to be called the “Tampa 2.”
The Cowboys’ base defense under Ryan was a 3-4. They played some 4-3 last season, so the adjustment is not considered to be a full facelift. The Tampa 2 is about zone coverage and the team thinks there is also a fit there in terms of personnel.
Sources told 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday that the Cowboys planned to make a “dynamic” hire. Kiffin’s resume qualifies.
Kiffin’s Buccaneers defenses were annually among the NFL leaders. In 2012, he coached at USC under his son Lane Kiffin.
The Cowboys are expected to move quickly — so quickly that the patience for and interest in other candidates like Ray Horton and Lovie Smith is in question.
“Why hire guys who learned the 4-3 from Kiffin when you can just hire Kiffin himself?” one source said.
Another factor may be Kiffin’s lack of head-coaching ambition. If Horton or Lovie become high-profile assistants and succeed, their term in Dallas would be short term. Kiffin has long been committed to being a defensive coordinator only.