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News » Killion: Former Raiders coaches better off where they are


Killion: Former Raiders coaches better off where they are


Killion: Former Raiders coaches better off where they are
Monday was a very bad day for the Raiders.


On one side of the country, there was Tom Cable looking appropriately beaten and weary, rehashing the ridiculous botched fake field goal that led to the Raiders' loss at home to a 1-10 team.

On the other side, there was Lane Kiffin looking appropriately gleeful and bright-eyed, being introduced as the new coach of the Tennessee Volunteers.

Remind me again: Which one was the guy Al Davis wanted to ruin?

Two months after Davis attempted to publicly destroy him, calling him a "flat-out liar" and a con-artist, Kiffin landed one of the plum jobs in all of college Football.

Guess Davis just can't destroy guys the way he once could.

Yes, it was a bad start to what could turn out to be a bad Raiders week. The Raiders have only three days to shake off their latest loss. They play Thursday night in San Diego, at a stadium where they haven't won since 2002 (and that includes a horrendous Super Bowl) against a team they haven't beaten in 10 tries.

The Chargers are bad, but probably not bad enough to lose at home to the Raiders. And seeing Norv Turner he took his team to the AFC title game a year ago, though his job now is in jeopardy gives us another opportunity to ponder the interesting fate of ex-Raiders coaches.

Later this month the Raiders will visit Jon Gruden and his first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers .

Remind me again: Is the problem the men who are fired? Or the man who fires them?

Up next on the chopping block is Cable, an earnest guy who at least has learned to don black for his weekly news conferences. He probably never was a serious candidate to keep the job, but he almost certainly removed himself from consideration Sunday with the bizarre fake field goal and even sillier rationale that it always works in practice.

If Kiffin got in trouble for having Sebastian Janikowski try a 76-yard field goal in his final game as coach, what should happen to Cable for thinking the overweight kicker could run 18 yards for a first down? He's lucky he didn't get Janikowski hurt, which would have cost the team its only consistent scoring threat for several years running.

Despite the odd call, Cable said he feels he's auditioning for his job every week.

"I think I have from the get-go," he said. "I just go out and do my job every day."

Cable said he wasn't looking for feedback from Davis and "the only feedback I need is wins." But you can be sure he's getting plenty of input from the owner.

"We talked this morning," Cable said, adding that the fake field goal was one of the subjects covered. "Like all of us, he's disappointed. One thing he and I share is a tremendous passion for winning. Losing is about the worst thing in our lives."

But losing is a way of life with the Raiders. They have lost 70 of their past 92 games.

Back in Knoxville, the recent escapee from the black hole was feeling magnanimous.

"I'd especially like to thank Al Davis," Kiffin said, "for giving me the opportunity for my first time as a head coach."

And why wouldn't Kiffin thank Davis? Kiffin has reportedly signed a six-year contract that will pay him an average of $2.375 million a year. That will end up being way more money than Davis owes him. And way more than Davis will attempt to withhold from his next coach.

It was clearly worth the 21 months of silver-and-black insanity that Kiffin went through.

"It was a real unique opportunity he provided for me," Kiffin said. "To deal with a completely dysfunctional franchise when you get there, that's something that that wasn't a joke something that's really valuable. You can't go to school and learn crisis management like going there."

Kiffin (who beat Kansas City, if you recall) got a big laugh, but he spoke the truth. Any young coach who can survive the Raiders and stand up to Davis is a valuable, marketable commodity.

Davis took a gamble on Kiffin and it backfired. But Kiffin took a gamble on Davis and it paid off. He provided a tutorial to other ambitious young coaches who might be willing to take some abuse for a year or two. He worked the system, he used the media, he stood his ground and was arrogant enough to think he could pull it off. So, in terms of personality, he's in fine company with other SEC coaches like Urban Myer, Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban.

In terms of ability? That remains to be seen. The SEC competition is going to be brutal. But Kiffin might succeed, particularly if he hires his father, Monte, to handle the defense. Kiffin runs a tight ship, he hires good coaches and he was supposed to be a great recruiter at USC. For now, everyone seems happy in Knoxville.

Meanwhile, back in Raider Nation, where the search is soon to start for the sixth coach in seven seasons, it was just another very bad day.

Contact Ann Killion at akillion@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5805.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 2, 2008

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