By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 at 4:52 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Merc continues to beat the drums for Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh as a candidate to coach the Raiders.
Considering Harbaugh’s silence and the fact that his contract extension wasn’t finalized before the NFL coaching carousel started spinning, maybe they’re on to something.
Perhaps Harbaugh is Al Davis’ new Sarkiffin, the chosen one to resurrect the franchise. Two years ago, Davis targeted Steve Sarkisian to lead the Raiders, then adroitly did a media bait-and-switch to Lane Kiffin, saying that young “Lance” was the man he wanted all along.
At least in this case, Davis knows Harbaugh, having had him on staff in 2003 and 2004 under Bill Callahan and Norv Turner. (If you’re a Raiders assistant for more than a year, chances are you’ve worked for multiple head coaches).
And Harbaugh has a well-documented respect for Al.
So why wouldn’t this be a match made in heaven?
These would be my reservations:
– It would be pretty slimy of Harbaugh to bail on Stanford before he ever even got them to .500. He went 4-8, then 5-7, a .375 winning percentage over two years. Made a big deal of saying it was his dream job when working on the mysterious extension.
If he’s as good as he thinks he is, Harbaugh will have chances at other NFL jobs down the line, instead of leveling whatever progress he started at the school that hired him out of a small-school job at the University of San Diego.
– For an ex-NFL quarterback, Harbaugh didn’t do much for Stanford’s quarterbacks the past two years. He brought a tough-minded, physical approach and a team that knocked heads with mighty USC for a half before talent took over.
But if Stanford could pass the ball, they would have went to a bowl game. Basically, he did for Stanford what Kiffin did for the Raiders last year. Made them a more physical opponent, but didn’t win.
Kiffin was fascinated by Al at first, had a lot of things go his way in terms of hiring offensive staff and in terms of personnel.
When Kiffin didn’t win, all the rope Davis gave the young coach tightened. Harbaugh, a rising star with an ego to match, could expect the same thing if he didn’t have immediate success.
It’s a lot different dealing with Al when you’re having tough times then when you’re the young prodigy.
Tom Cable, on the other hand, has dealt with Davis on a week-to-week basis during tough times, has already handled the situation, and at the very end managed to put together the best back-to-back games the franchise has seen in six years.
And he did it in late December, motiving the Raiders and presenting a crisp, well-coached product during a time of year where they’re usually so deep in the tank they need gills to survive.
Other coaching news regarding Raiders coaches of past and present:
– The Newark Star-Ledger reports the Jets want to interview Rex Ryan and are expected to be granted permission once the Baltimore Ravens are eliminated from the playoffs. It’s conceivable if Rex were to get a head coaching job, he could want Rob Ryan as his defensive coordiantor.
One of the Jets in-house candidates is Callahan, fired by the Raiders in 2003.
– Kiffin hired Ed Orgeron away from the New Orleans Saints as his recruiting coordinator at Tennessee. Kiffin wanted Orgeron as his defensive line coach in Oakland, only to be rejected by Davis, with Keith Millard retaining the job.