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Where Lane and Al went wrong

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, January 26th, 2008 at 2:43 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Update: Talking to reporters on the field following the Senior Bowl, Lane Kiffin sidestepped questions regarding his status with the Raiders.

“I’m not going to comment on that. That’s got nothing to do with this game, these guys’ last game here, and I’m real proud of the way they played and competed,” Kiffin said. “It was a fun week.”

Asked if he will be coaching the Raiders in the fall, Kiffin said, “I hope so.”

There are a lot of different ways Lane Kiffin could have shot down reports regarding his demise in the eyes of Al Davis, and reasonable people can agree that saying “I’m not going to comment on anything that transpired in the last three weeks” is not one of them.

Nor is coaching the Senior Bowl in a black Under Armour windbreaker, with the name “Raiders” nowhere in sight. The rest of the staff is adorned in Raiders gear.

It reminds me of the time Jon Gruden showed up to his season-ending press conference the day after a playoff loss to New England in a maroon polo shirt instead of his usual Raiders garb.

Not long afterward, he was on his way to Tampa Bay.

During Saturday’s Senior Bowl broadcast, field reporter Charles Davis said Kiffin told him he didn’t want to comment on rumors that Davis asked for his resignation, essentially the same thing he said the day before.

“He said he didn’t want to comment on anything that happened in the last three weeks to a month, but what I do want to focus on is this game today,” Davis reported Kiffin as saying. “We focused on these kids all week long and coaching them, we’re going to focus on them today in this game. We don’t want to cheat them at all.”

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said he believed the Raiders and Kiffin were negotiating a settlement of his contract, the end result being Oakland would be the first team since the Minnesota Vikings in 1984 (Les Steckel) and 1985 (Bud Grant) to have consecutive coaches who lasted a single season.

A year ago, Kiffin was hailed by Davis as superior to Jon Gruden, glossing over the fact that his first choice was actually Steve Sarkisian, the co-offensive coordinator along with Kiffin at USC. Davis raved about Kiffin’s grasp of the total game and his value as a personnel man because of his background as recruiting coordinator.

It wasn’t just Davis’ refusal to part with Rob Ryan that fractured the relationship, although that was part of it.

The fact is, it became apparent as the season went on that Kiffin and Davis differ philsophically, and many of the things Kiffin did and said no doubt rubbed the boss the wrong way.

Davis believes he has stocked the Raiders with enough talent to be consistent winners.

“We’ve got good players. What I worry about is injuries,” Davis said during a training camp press conference.

Kiffin, looking at the 15-49 record upon his arrival, never bought it. He admitted making final cuts wasn’t all that difficult because the Raiders didn’t have enough good players to make it difficult.

When the Raiders finished the season by facing Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Denver, Kiffin, when assessing how his team had held together, said, it was difficult “when you’re not playing anybody like yourself.”

While perhaps not meant as a jab at Davis’ acquisition of talent, go ahead and assume Davis felt that way.

The week the Raiders played the Colts, Kiffin talked with admiration about a roster stocked with the type of players Davis wouldn’t want.

“Their linebackers are 5-11. They’ve got a 5-9 safety, a 6-foot defensive end,” Kiffin said. “They get a lot of people later in rounds that other people don’t take because of size or because of what they evaluate. They see what other people don’t. In that system, tackling is one of the first things you evaluate, and you can see it. They take people, because they’re really good players, and they tackle real well.”

Davis made it clear during training camp that dealing Randy Moss was Kiffin’s idea.

“If Lane felt that was best for the team I was going to do it,” Davis said. “And we did it. We didn’t get near what we should have. Randy Moss, if he’s well, can still play, in my opinion. Our coaches didn’t think so.”

It couldn’t have set well with Davis when Kiffin blamed him for breeding the culture which Moss wanted no part of.

“Randy had made it very clear to me, his statement was, ‘Coach, this has nothing to do with you. I have already heard great things about what you are doing there already, but I am not going to play for that organization, and I don’t want any part of it. I don’t like the way I have been treated there,’ ” Kiffin told Minnesota writers on a conference call.

“It was out of my control. Randy wasn’t going to play here and he made it very clear, so it was a direction that this organization needed to go because he wasn’t happy and he wasn’t going to play here for whatever reason, the things that happened before I got here.”

Getting rid of Moss was a big part in another Kiffin belief not held by Davis _ team chemistry.

Kiffin made repeated references over the course of the season to “cleaning out the locker room” and ridding it of bad influences.

Davis is on record as saying he doesn’t believe in team chemistry.

Where Kiffin stood on the drafting of JaMarcus Russell is not clear. Leading up to the draft, I was told Kiffin preferred Brady Quinn, but I never heard it from Kiffin himself and misinformation is rampant where the draft is concerned.

When the season was over, Kiffin was no longer a Davis prodigy. He was a 4-12 coach, the same as Bill Callahan and Norv Turner in their final seasons. Kiffin was just two games better than Art Shell who had no right to ask for his own choice as defensive coordinator.

To make matters worse in Davis’ eyes, Kiffin did little to refute rumors which connected him to college jobs at Arkansas, Michigan and UCLA.

A Contra Costa Times poll asked readers “As a Raiders fan who would you rather get rid of, Al Davis or Lane Kiffin?

At last check, Davis had 1,112 votes to be shown the door and Kiffin 31.

When Kiffin accepted the job, he made it clear on several occasions it was on the condition that certain things were in place. He never specified what those things were, but implied it had to do with the makeup of the roster and coaching staff.

Hope he got that in writing.

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  • Hobs Gnarly

    Man Goon you are getting ya butt kicked here and you still haven’t answered my Denny Green question

  • http://none FIRE KIFFIN

    Fluffy24 – Would you like me to look up the post where you proclaim that Fluffy 24 is out if Kiffin is out?

    Or would you prefer to let sleeping dogs lie?

    Just Win Baby.

  • Big AL’s GOON

    Huff,

    Signing anyone to a contract that they don’t live up to and then firing them is sound. Look he gave Kiffin a chance. Kiffin failed, badly. Time to move on. Fargas running well is no surprise neither is Fargas being injured. Our draft was not great. We got JR who is still a big ? and Zack Miller who is a decent TE. That’s it. OO is nothing to write home about and JLH is garbage. Henderson is a project and so is Bush. The O-line was better than last year but, that wasn’t hard to accomplish. Believe me just like AL found Mr. Kiffin he will find another coach, a better coach.

  • Huff24

    Actually…I’ll have to apologize to Bobby Comer because I have nothing against him. I saw Edward T and Gay in the same sentence and immediately replied. Sorry to Bobby Comer. You didn’t deserve that kind of treatment.

  • CopenhagenFan

    I am angry because Al Davis hired a punk with no experience and sells him to us as a boy wonder with a 3 year plan to get us back on track and persuades us to buy into it and then pulls the rug from under us.

    I see this as screwing me over and manipulating me as a fan. This is where my anger towards Al Davis is derived.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Glory, it will be Saunders but Lofton has a shot. Saunders has no where else to go, well Lofton doesn’t either but both will be cheap that is the main thing. Kiff will get his settlement on condition of his silence, so Al can say nothing went on as usual.

  • M

    I wonder if anyone ever asked Russell what sort of offense he would prefer to run? What he feels most comfortable with. That seems to work for Roethlisberger and his OC.

  • Huff24

    FIRE KIFFIN – You’re still blowing smoke out of your @$$. All this talking and no action is starting to bore me. You don’t really have any credibility anyways. You won’t even put in the work to prove your point. You’ll probably create something I said before you’ll even look it up because you want to be right….just like Al Davis.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Well, according to Ira Miller it turns out that Kiffin has only 1 year left on his contract for 1.7 Million.

    He say´s all the other reports claiming he has 2 years and 4 million remaining are wrong, of course a ”team source” told him.

  • Edward T

    Fluff24
    My job does not give me the chance to post 50 or so comments a day like you. I know you live in the Bay Area and every night I scan this sight.
    I ‘m to busy to post and just read with fun your typical rants over this past year.The final straw for me was your total disrespect for BHP.
    He has been on many radio stations and has better insight to the Raiders than you, you just cant stand that ,your just a jealous punk.
    So that’s who I am.Just because you post doesnt make you better than anyone else here.
    You seem like a boring guy here posting all the time, get a LIFE!!!!!

  • Hobs Gnarly

    I will give you Kiff is a project, but Al loves projects and what is the difference in having him stay for the sake of continutity? Changing coaches every year hasn’t done them any good.

  • sloraider

    Kiffin failed? Did expect a a 12-4 season this season?
    You got to be crazy.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Point being…..misinformation everywhere.

  • M

    uh, Gannon’s_Love_Child, the WMD in Iraq made all the media outlets as well.

  • raiderdude

    what IF!………FK is…..Al Davis?

  • Hobs Gnarly

    BHP is on the Raider payroll, whether he receives money or not the guy is being used as a propaganda tool. He too can’t stand a change from cleaning house and getting rid of the dead weight around the Raiders.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    dude, Al doesn’t have that much energy

  • CopenhagenFan

    RaiderDude..Al Davis must be more eloquent than Fire Kiffin…….

  • La Milicia Negra

    Before the playoffs, i believed Al Saunders was the next HC in Washington, because everybody said so when they hired him, that he was to inherit Joe Gibbs team. I know Greg Williams was the hot name all year, but I still kept my believes that Saunders would be the man, now it looks like none of them will be there next year..

    Al Saunders was a great OC in Kansas. In fact our entire coaching corp would have more merit with Lorton and Al Saunders. But I still feel and think that Kiffin would have/will do a better job had he been/is he allowed to finish the plan he had/has intended.

    Saying that gruden didn’t need a 3 year plan is foolish in my mind, Gruden got a team with players that had had winning seasons once in their career. Many of Kiffins players never had a winning season. This was supposed to be a long fix not a small one that would end quick.

    My perfect scenario, though its a not going to happen is, HC: Kiffin, OC: Al Saunders, QBcoach Knapp, WRcoach Lofton, O-linecoach Cable, DC Ryan, D-linecoach Orgeron, LBcoach Sean McDermott, DBc Raheem Morris and Darren Perry

  • Scottish Raider

    This is like a Shakespearian tragedy. I just can’t figure out whether Al Davis is the King Lear character, the demented and delusional dying monarch surrounded by treacherous courtiers and a dysfuctional family, or is he Shylock, the bitter old miser who has just struck the devil’s own bargain and is now watching his world collapse around him.

    I appreciate that many posters retain a nostalgic fondness for Davis – the swashbuckling rebel, the great anti-hero of profootball. I also fully accept that Kiffin is not yet a coach in the Dungy, Belichick class. But, the inevitable end of this sorry saga is the fall of Al Davis. Irrespective of whether you think that he is or isn’t competent, relevant, honourable or any other of the adjectives scattered thoughout the 600+ posts before this one, the most damning label that Davis cannot remove is a small, five-letter word:

    LOSER

    We could forgive his quirks, his idiosyncracies, his media games, his arrogance and everything else if this was even close to being a winning franchise. But it isn’t. This is the worst performing franchise in the NFL over the past five years. Players have come in, failed and been cut. Coaches have come in, failed and been sacked. Schemes have been tried, seen to fail and replaced by something equally unsuccessful. The only consistent factor in the Raider’s abject mediocrity has been Al Davis. His hires, his fires, his total responsibility.

    That is why I have given up on Davis. He is a loser.

  • Huff24

    Big Al’s GOON – Honestly. What kind of expectations did Al Davis have for Kiffin to turn around a 2-14 team? You said Kiffin failed badly…compared to what? The last 5 years? The O-Line was better than last year but that wasn’t hard to accomplish? I can understand being better than last year…but #6 in rushing? This is the NFL. Do you realize how much better that truly is? Thats an incredible number when you consider the players on that line. You say that Al will find a better coach. Who? No big name coach wants to come here. Why do you think that is? Seriously…tell me why? Its because Al doesn’t give them the power they need to succeed. Thats why.

  • Big AL’s GOON

    Huff,

    I’d take 8-8 over 4-12 anyday and check out Pittsbugh’s record the year before Tomlin took over. And as usual you can make up as many excuses for other coaches success and Kiffin’s failure all day. The fact still remains Kiffin failed and should be fired just like all the other failed NFL coaches who were sweating at seasons end waiting for the “your fired” hammer to drop.

    Gnarly’s

    Get a clue, the only butt getting kicked around here is the KIffster’s right out of the Raiders organization. Also,I answered you Denny Green question. Keep up Hobs.

  • Huff24

    Bobby Comer – Ouch. I even apologized to you. Nevermind. Yes. Church is more important than the GAME of football. Notice this is just a game? Church is real life and I base my priority in life on my family and my true God. You can keep on making a game a priority while ignorning the most important things in life. Thats fine. Its your life. You’ll pay the price for that later.

  • M

    for any of you here who have complained about ill conceived drafting over the years. Something I read a while back pointed out that the “genious” Shenanigan had all of ONE of his draft picks from the years 00 – 04 or 01 – 05 on his squad. I can’t recall the exact span of years, but it regarded the fact that those draftees should now be in their absolute primes. Only DJ Williams remains. Gentlemen, and ladies, the draft is a crap shoot, blaming AD or anyone else for their failures of prognostication is a stretch.

  • M

    sorry – “genius”

  • Huff24

    Edward T – Your wonderful life has brought you here where you’re now argueing with a young punk. What do you have to say for yourself now? Hypocritical maybe?

  • http://none rich_gannons_love_child

    very true, mr. M, very true. i just don’t see any scenerio where this turns out any good. if the reports are untrue, is al trying to motivate kiffin?? is the vast “anti-raider” media trying create a schism between a great young coach and an owner?? have i wasted a beautiful montana winter afternoon pining over a 4-12 football team??

  • http://oakglenn Oakglenn

    yes to all three love child

  • http://oakglenn Oakglenn

    Huff why waste your time on people who can anonymously come in here take cheap shots at others and then gloss themselves? Anyone who does that has no life, by definition.

  • Huff24

    Big Al’s GOON – You can blame all the coaches you want but what excuse do you have for Al Davis? He’s an owner who hasn’t won a Superbowl since 1983. How can you explain that? How can you defend that? You can bring up 2002 but you can’t even defend Al Davis for that as well.

  • Huff24

    Oakglenn – True. We’re all screwed.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    new blog guys

  • La Milicia Negra

    Big AL’sGOON…

    Kiffins team was full of players never experienced a winning season. Sapp was probably the only one. Mike Tomlin inherited a team that just won the SuperBowl so I don’t think the squads and coaches situations can be compared

    A turnaround that we need takes atleast 2 years, I thought this was year one in a 3 year plan…

    Big AL’s GOON Says:
    January 27th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Huff,

    “I’d take 8-8 over 4-12 anyday and check out Pittsbugh’s record the year before Tomlin took over. And as usual you can make up as many excuses for other coaches success and Kiffin’s failure all day. The fact still remains Kiffin failed and should be fired”

  • I dress in black

    Nice post Oakglenn. I guess what bothers me the most is that Davis would even consider wanting to have Kiffin resign after laying the ground work for a successful future. No matter what he will be out in 2 years and more than likely end up with a divisional foe. Shanahan is at the end of his career and the Chiefs management will soon lose patience with Herm. The best we can hope for is AD resigning, dying or his family and partners does a intervention.

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  • raiderdude

    SCOTTISH- That brought a tear to my eye. Al and all his greatness must step down. We LOVE YOU AL, but you must let new blood turn the ship. WE, THE NATION, are loosing the grip to the proverbial rail of this modern day TITANIC. SAVE US AL.

  • El Raider

    Lane Kiffin was wrong from the beginning. He reminded me of a new college grad just coming in to a sales organization with salespeak and catch phrases. Look at his moves: Trade Randy Moss for a fourth round pick to NE when they have two first round picks. Says Moss is a distraction. RM played hurt and did his best in an archaic offense with no QB help. Kiffin instead patches things up with Porter who everyone knows has nowhere near the talent of Moss. What gives? Drafts Quentin Moses with a 3rd round pick. Then cuts him. Where is the evaluation expertise we heard so much about. Signs Rhodes, never plays him. Says the O-line needs to be rebuilt but drafts no one of consequence. His offense was horrible his decision making was suspect and he blew games with his inexperience. All the while blaming the player. Saying he had nothing to do with those players, intimating who ever brought them in didnt know what they were doing. Thats a shot at your boss! How do you come into a dream job at 32 never having been a head coach in the NFL and now want to tell your boss what hes been doing wrong? A boss who has won 3 Super Bowls. I dont get it. Lane cast his own fate.

  • Florida Pete

    one of the things that i find curious is the notion that Kiffin should be given carte blanche with respect to hiring and firing coaching staff, signing free agents, and handling the draft…

    um, maybe if your name is Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Parcells, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy,or maybe a half dozen other “proven” head coaches…

    otherwise you are not going to get that kind of carte blanche from any organization…

    young Mr Kiffen needed to do the best he could with what he could get and work with that… earn the right to call the shots in additional areas…

    Kiffen’s rookie year was not so impressive that he could start dictating terms to Mr Davis…

    and, again, i saw a firm lack of commitment to the silver and black… but i did see a firm commitment to putting “Lame” Kiffen in the best possible light in search of a “better” gig…

    this kid was not going to stick… he was looking for his next job when he took this one…

    see ya kiff… move on…

  • http://insidebayarea.com Raider1962

    This is a copy of a letter I sent to feedback@raiders.com. Unfortunately I’m afraid it will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes.

    I have been a loyal Raider fan since 1970. I have cried with joy in our greatest victories and cried in sadness in our most tragic losses. My first son’s name is William Raider, his middle name being my nickname. The Raiders have been a tremendous influence in my life. I never thought the time would come where I would lose faith in the team but that time has come.
    The last 5 years have seen the Raiders become a rudderless ship. A laughingstock of professional sports, where once they stood as the envy of sportsmen everywhere. I believe the fault lies with the principal owner, Al Davis.
    In my opinion, the Raider organization is at a crossroads. The wrong path to take would be for Mr. Davis to continue his policies status quo. Hiring and firing at will, bad personnel decisions and football philosophy that is 3 decades old. The correct course to take would be for Mr. Davis to step back, hire a competent general manager to make football decisions and to allow a coach and his coordinators to mold a football team. This is the only way that I see the Raiders reversing their present course which is akin to a piece of lint spiraling down a drain.
    Thank you very much for your time.

  • Ian

    Just got back from 10 days out of media touch in Mexico.
    If Kiffin gets run out I am done with season tickets until we have new ownership.

    So sad, I felt really good about Kiffin & where he seemed to be taking us.

    Dark days.

    Ian

  • Just sell Baby……..

    So many good front office managers, coaches and players. Have found better employment elsewhere. Most are on winning NFL teams or soon to be. Chipmunk Davis is surround by “yes” employees. None will talk about offering Davis a few insights to taking a different direction. Lets face it, it’s his way [which is a loser way], or the highway. If Coach K. did get into the playoffs on his ending year of his contract, he will demand more money, as anyone else in the position. Chipmunk Davis will let him go just as he did to you know in Tampa Bay. The Faiders will never be consistent winners with so many coaching changes………..And so it is !!

  • http://contracostatimes matt

    I would be against getting rid of Kiffin, but it seems like the first good college job that he gets offered he’d be out the door anyway. Al Davis wants someone that lives the Raiders. Chucky didn’t always agree with Al, but his commitment to the Raiders was never in doubt. Al gave Kiffin a big chance at a pro job and to Al it looked like kiffin was ready to jump ship when the Arkansas job opened up. Much like when Jim Mora Jr. joked about his desire to coach a college team and was let go in Atlanta.

  • Steve G. Raider Fan in Illinois

    I was born and raised in Illinois, and have been a die hard Raiders fan since 1965. All I can say is My God! When will the bleeding stop for the Raiders. Al Davis at one time commanded respect among NFL owners, but has allowed this great franchise to laspe into the cellar. In order for the Raiders to return to their glory and dominance, Al Davis has to let Lane Kiffin,or whoever he decides upon, to build a winner with no interference. I am tired of seeing the hearts of the Raider Nation faithful ripped out year after year! Please wake me whwn the nightmare is over!

  • http://morningsrar ken bagen

    when kiff was hired,all us raider faithful hoped for the second coming of chucky.. instead this situation is remaniscent of the mike shanahan era with the raiders….let us hope in 5 years or so ,kiffin is not in charge of a division rival and kicking the raiders buts twice a season…

  • http://yahoo Ken W.

    Since 1967, when I met Clem Danniels and Dan Conners at a cub scout meeting the Oakland Raiders have been THE only team I have cheered and cried for.

    The deal with Lane Kiffin is the last straw. I could go on and on about how Davis interferes in all aspects of the head coaches decisions and takes no blame but you out there already know it all too well.

    Mr. Davis, fire Coach Kiffin, get someone else, and call the shots again, I don’t care because you will be doing it with one less fan. Who will I root for? No one else. I have bled silver and black since I was a little boy.The NFL just died and you killed it for me Davis.

    One last thing Mr. Davis, insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

    Good luck Raider fans, I’ll miss you.

  • Robert Tatum

    I am in the process of finding another team to root for. This is totally stupid what is going on with the Raiders. The problem is simple – Al wants someone who he can control and Kiffin isn’t buying it. At this rate, the Raiders will be as comical as the Knicks are now.

  • http://Aol.com Jim McCreery

    First of all im a huge Raider fan ever since i could breath. I never really understood why so many people hated on Al Davis…..Then he released Jon Gruden, we went to the superbowl the next year so i wasnt mad, then i realized that it was a huge mistake since we havent won more then 5 games in a season since then. Now this, huhhh……I dont know how Al could be so stubborn and not go with the rest of the NFL and modernize his club. Kiffin’s got it, all we ca do is hope for a miracle that Lane stays, because if he dosnt we wont be seing a competing team until the day Davis passes on to a better place.

  • Steve S.

    I only hope and pray that during home games next year that the fans start chanting “Davis Sucks”. I am also hoping someone flashes a banner “Davis Must Go”. The shareholders need to know that the fans are ready to walk. I have been a raider fans since the “Sea of Hands Game”. I am about done.