Is Lane Kiffin a Dead Man Walking?

Joe ParksContributor ISeptember 15, 2008

After the 41-14 blowout on Monday night at the hands of the Denver Broncos, the sports world has been abuzz with rumors concerning the fate of Raiders Head Coach Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin blasted Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan, as well as owner Al Davis, in the media following the loss, laying the blame on Davis and Ryan. While  Ryan's defense deserves the lion's share of the blame, Kiffin's uninspired playcalling certainly contributed to the shellacking at the hands of the hated Broncos.

This public hanging of his defensive coordinator may well be the last straw for Al Davis. And I am not sure I can blame him.

Everyone, media and fans alike, loves to attack Al Davis and blame all the problems with the Raiders on him. A certain amount of blame is fair, to be sure, after all, he does call the shots and has made some poor decisions personnel wise.

But Lane Kiffin knew who the owner of the Oakland Raiders was before he accepted the job. Maybe he should have more control as head coach, but that is irrellevant. Right or wrong, that is not how Davis works, and it never has been. Kiffin knew the deal and still took the job.

It now appears that Kiffin wanted to be fired at the end of last season, in order to be free of the Raiders and Al Davis but still get his money. Davis didn't fire him, requested that Kiffin resign, and Kiffin refused.

All evidence points to Kiffin taking every chance to take shots at Davis in the media; one would assume that this is in hopes of being fired. I would point out that it hasn't affected the way he coached the offense. He still got the team ready. Now he has become a distraction. Even the convincing victory over the Chiefs may not save him.

My opinion is that Kiffin brought much of this on himself. Beginning last season and his quarterback carousel. Initially, the starter should have been Daunte Culpepper, and once it became evident the Raiders wouldn't make the playoffs, JaMarcus Russell should've been getting playing time.

Kiffin opted to stick with his pick, Josh McCown, instead. Kiffin believed McCown grasped his offense better than Culpepper or Russell, and he stubbornly kept going back to him. For what it was worth, Culpepper played better, yet Kiffin would keep playing McCown, even when he was injured.

I believe he gave Russell the start at the end of the season only because Al Davis finally forced the issue. Something he shouldn't have needed to do. I think it starts there and reached critical mass when the rumors hit that Kiffin was pursuing the head-coaching job at Arkansas.

In the middle of the season.

I now believe they weren't just rumors. This definitely would not go over with Davis, in light of the fact that he had given Kiffin a lucrative three-year contract not eight months prior.

Once the season ended with the team losing 12 games, which didn't please Davis, I'm certain things came to a head. The final straw for Davis was Kiffin's firing of Defensive Coordinatior Rob Ryan without Davis' approval. Many have criticized Davis for not giving his head coach the authority to make such moves.

Yet, while that argument may have merit, it doesn't matter. Kiffin was never given the power to make those decisions, and he knew that.

Since the media are so fond of rehashing the firing of Mike Shanahan 19 years ago, it bears recalling that the biggest factor in Shanahan's termination as the Radiers' head coach was that he fired almost all of the coaching staff without Davis' approval following the 1988 season, including Offensive Line Coach Art Shell.

This, along with his senseless cutting of certain players, most notably MLB Matt Millen, sealed Shanahan's fate. Millen, incidentally, went on to win two Super Bowls with the 49ers, as well as making the Pro-Bowl while on that squad.

We also have the accusations that Kiffin is trying to make sure Davis doesn't screw him out of what he is owed, again citing Shanahan supposedly still being owed $275,000 that Davis never paid him.

The truth there doesn't play as well as the demonization of Al Davis, yet I feel it is important. Evidently, when Shanahan was fired, Davis agreed to pay Shanahan $275,000 in addition to what was owed on his contract on the condition that he not take a job with any of the Raiders' AFC West rival. Specifically, the Denver Broncos.

But less than three weeks after receiving his walking papers from the Raiders, he took the job of quarterbacks coach on the Denver Broncos staff, thereby nullifying Al Davis' offer.

But it sounds better to make good guy Mike the victim. The truth is Shanahan didn't deserve the money after that. By trying to fire Ryan, Kiffin repeated Shanahan's mistake, despite whether Ryan should've been fired or not.

So now, Kiffin is basically being publicly insubordinate and handling the whole situation poorly. I am not sure Al will be able to keep him on now, regardless of the victory over Kansas City. Due to Lane Kiffin's own actions, it may be too late.

But, if he does get fired in the coming weeks, remember that he had choices. He knew the deal coming into Alameda. He chose to take Al on publicly, and that will never work.