Jim Fassel: The Next Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders?

Al's WingmanAnalyst INovember 16, 2008

A  suspicious news item surfaced from "wire sources" indicating Jim Fassel had sent Al Davis a letter claiming he was interested in being the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders.

The first question is, how can this possibly be believed as valid?  We know this news item is obviously planted.  Jim Fassel would not leak such an item.  Any astute coaching prospect for the Raiders knows not to communicate through the media.

Anyway, Fassel would have no reason to compose such a letter since he and Davis are on face to face terms and no doubt in each other's phone directory.

At the worst, Al's massage therapist/bodyguard has a cell phone Al can borrow between whirlpool therapy, right?

Even if such a letter does exist, what's with all the letters?  Remember the alleged Davis to Kiffin "sign this to resign" smoking gun letter.

Why someone would plant such a news item is as mysterious as many other cleverly placed, high profile news clippings leading up to Lane Kiffin's firing and continuing in its aftermath.

Still, let's look at the realistic possibilities of Fassel being the next Raiders head coach.  From Al Davis's point of view, it certainly has to be an option. 

The last few times the Oakland Raiders head coach position has opened up, Jim Fassel's name was mentioned. Since his unceremonious departure from the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 after serving for two years as offensive coordinator, he has become part of the Raiders backdrop, developing and enhancing a rapport with Al.

If we look at the timetable of events, it is clear Jim Fassel came close a few times to becoming the Oakland Raiders head coach.

If Al figured Fassel was the right man for the job he would have given it to him at the time. Still, Fassel apparently meets with Al's approval as far as depth of knowledge and abilities, otherwise he would not continue to engage him in formal interviews for the head coach position when it has been available in the past. He did not go through the motions to meet NFL requirements to interview a certain number of candidates. There has to be value involved or why bother.

This past summer at Raiders' training camp he was asked by Jerry McDonald, Raiders' beat blogger for the Contra Costa Times, about the possibilities of him coaching the Raiders. He said,"No, please don’t even bring that up. Quite honestly, sometimes you stay away because you don’t want that type of speculation. I really came here because Lane invited me to come. It was very nice of him. I appreciate that. My son’s here [as a quality control staffer]. I know all the people here.”

Fassel said he has also talked to Al Davis and didn’t deny the two have discussed a coaching position over the past few years. “We’ve had our conversations. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Jim Fassel has been through the gauntlet as head coach of the NY Giants. He understands the pressures of the NFL as well as anybody in the profession. He did not enjoy success most recently as offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens so he's not on the most solid of footing. It's been a few bumpy years for Coach Fassel, but the truth is he does know offensive game planning.

Most recently when asked by Jerry MacDonald if he wanted to get back into coaching, Fassel said, “I hope so, at some point in time. It almost happened last year (in Washington). We’ll see.”

Fassel was thought to be hired by Dan Synder to coach the Redskins, but was inexplicably bumped at the 11th hour for Jim Zorn. Coach Fassel can't seem to catch a break.

Ol' Jim is seen as somewhat of a retread candidate for head coaching jobs at this point. It may be an unfair stigma. Jim Fassel is a viable candidate for a role on an NFL team. A head coaching assignment would not be surprising, but he could fill a number of roles in an offensive capacity. He's not washed up. Everyone hits rough patches so it's really not a big deal to bounce back.

This is a guy who made it to the Super Bowl with the Giants in 2000. There's no shame in losing to that monster Ravens' defense of the day. He knows how to win so he's worth another shot when an opportunity is out there.

Why not for the Oakland Raiders?