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Kiffin Out; Cable Elevated

The Raiders fired Lane Kiffin on Sept. 30, just four games into his second season as Oakland head coach. Kiffin, 33, had a 5-15 record with the Raiders.

The Raiders promoted offensive line coach Tom Cable to interim head coach, the team's eighth head coach since 1995.

"I reached a point where I felt that the whole staff, we were fractionalized, that the best thing to do to get this thing back was to make a change," Raiders managing general partner Al Davis told reporters at a news conference Sept. 30. "It hurts because I picked the guy. I picked the wrong guy."

Davis told reporters that he fired Kiffin for "cause." He also reportedly informed his former coach via telephone that he won't be paid for the remaining year-plus on his three-year contract he signed.

"It didn’t have to do with winning," Davis said. "It had to do with personality. It’s the first time I ever let anyone go based on what I call (being) just a flat-out liar."

The decision to dismiss Kiffin reportedly was more about his criticisms of the Davis-led franchise as it was about the team’s on-the-field performance. Those critiques reached a peak when Kiffin distanced himself from the defense two days after a 41-14 blowout loss to the Denver Broncos in the 2008 season opener, telling reporters that the defense was under the control of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and Davis.

During the aforementioned news conference Sept. 30, Davis, right, critiqued several of Kiffin’s coaching and personnel decisions. Among other things, Davis told reporters that Kiffin objected to the Raiders using the first pick in the 2007 NFL draft on quarterback JaMarcus Russell and insisted on wide receiver Randy Moss being traded before the 2007 season.

“I think he conned me like he conned all you people,” Davis said.

Kiffin told ESPN on Sept. 30 that he was “embarrassed” for Davis while watching the news conference.

“It was very painful for myself and my family,” Kifin told the network. “A lot of accusations being made there, a lot of information being put up there, a number of lies. It was very hurtful and it was tough to stomach.”

Their relationship reportedly began to unravel after Davis rejected Kiffin’s request to fire Ryan following the end of the 2007 season. Davis subsequently reportedly drew up a letter of resignation for Kiffin to sign, which the coach refused to sign. As the start of the 2008 season approached, Kiffin reportedly questioned personnel decisons by Davis.

"I didn’t think it was any one thing, it was a cumulative thing," Davis said. "The pattern just disturbed me."

"I feel disappointed because I feel we came a long ways and really improved as a team," Kiffin told reporters at the team's Alameda, Calif. headquarters on Sept. 30.

Kiffin’s firing comes a day after the St. Louis Rams dismissed Scott Linehan, reportedly the second firing at the quarter point of the season. The last time a coach had been fired this early in the season was when Davis dismissed Mike Shanahan after four games in 1989.

Shanahan has a 21-6 record against his former team as coach of the Denver Broncos.

Cable, 43, is regarded as one of the game’s leading offensive line coaches. Before being hired by Kiffin prior to the 2007 season, Cable had a successful stint with the Atlanta Falcons. He spent four years as a college head coach at Idaho and was also an assistant at UCLA, Cal and Colorado.

Cable arguably was the driving force behind the Raiders running game going from 29th in the NFL (94.9 yards per game) to sixth (130.4) during the 2007 season. The Falcons led the NFL in rushing in 2006 with Cable as the line coach and dropped to 26th after he left.

"This is in many ways a strange day," Cable told reporters Sept. 30. "I have a friend who lost a job. That’s difficult in this business but, as we know, this is a business. It is time for us to move forward and to put the past behind us. ... We have a good coaching staff here and a good football team here."

He was a big reason the Raiders running game went from 29th in the NFL (94.9 yards per game) to sixth (130.4). Conversely, the Falcons led the NFL in rushing in 2006 with Cable as the line coach and dropped to 26th after he left.

``I’ll coach the (O-) line,’’ Cable said. ``That’s what I do. That’s what I am.’’

Davis said: "He has the personality to dominate that locker room."

Oakland has an NFL-worst 20-64 record since the start of the 2003 season, spanning the head coaching tenures of Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Shell and Kiffin, right. Since 1995, Jon Gruden (1998-2001) is the only Raiders coach to last more than two seasons.

Oakland has lost at least 11 games for five straight seasons, tying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1980s for the worst stretch in NFL history.

Since returning to Oakland in 1995, the Raiders have had just three winning seasons. The success mostly came under Gruden, who led Oakland to AFC West titles in 2000 and 2001 before leaving for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Callahan took the Raiders to the Super Bowl the following season, but Oakland was drubbed 48-21 by the Gruden-led Bucs.

"We’ll get back, we’ll be back," Davis said. "The Raiders will be back. I have unshakable confidence, the will to win, and I just know that the fire that burns brightest in this building is the will to win. And we will win. We will win.”

Recent seasons suggest otherwise.

Contributing: The Associated Press &
Contra Costa Times

Updated: 10-30-2008


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