You gotta love 'The Leisure Suit'. Dead Man Walking finally hired his next head coach, settling on 31 year-old Lane Kiffin as the successor to Art Shell. Kiffin, son of the Monte Kiffin, a long time D-Coordinator in Tampa, had been serving as the Co-Offensive Coordinator for Pete Carroll at USC. What makes this even more hilarious to me is Kiffin accepted the job after it was reportedly offered and turned down by Steve Sarkisian, the other Co-Offensive Coordinator. Further yet, it was reported the Raiders were interviewing Kiffen to be the Offensive Coordinator for Sarkisian before he got smart and ran back to L.A.
Kiffin has spent a total of 1 year in the NFL, 2000 as the Defensive Quality Control Manager for the Jaguars. That means he picked up dirty jock-straps and lined the practice field. Now he will essentially do the same thing, with a bigger paycheck and impressive title. Working for Al Davis means you get none of the credit for success and all the blame for failure. Kiffin won't be able to make choices about players or his own coaching staff. Just ask Jon Gruden, or Mike Shanahan.
As a Denver fan, I love the fact that the Raiders continue to be a train-wreck as an organization. I'll admit, while it is fun as hell to beat the Raiders each and every time we play them, having your arch-rival and nememsis playing in the Canadian Football League does lose some of the luster off this rivalry. Now they hire a head coach who wasn't seen as ready to become the head coach at Minnesota, where Kiffen grew up. Now he'll run the Raiders, a proud organization, but one that is in danger of being re-locaed to the Arena League.
In what seems to be the new trned throughout the league, the Raiders went with youth in hring Kiffin. The Jets last season(Eric Mangini), as well as Pittsburgh this year(Mike Tomlin), team seem to be focusing on hot, young coordinators to try and relate to today's player. A few years ago it was all about re-treads, with Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells getting high-end jobs. Neither has had any success and Parcells is once again out of the league.
Kiffen becomes the youngest head coach in the modern era of the league, younger than John Madden or Davis himself, who took over the Raiders at age 33. He's younger than 9 different Raiders who finished the season with Oakland, including Warren Sapp.
With the Raiders stuck in neutral and the Chiefs getting older by the second, the Broncos and Chargers looks to be the class of the AFC West for the foreseeable future, and it might be time to re-think which AFC West team is our rival. Besides, it isn't much fun when you dominate a team as much as the Broncos have dominated the Raiders.