ALAMEDA — Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said Monday that he is through commenting publicly on his conversations with managing general partner Al Davis. That no longer matters, given Davis intends to fire Kiffin by Tuesday morning, at the latest.
Two people familiar with the situation confirmed an ESPN report Monday evening that Davis was in the midst of interviewing offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, offensive line coach Tom Cable and advance scout Paul Hackett about the prospect of replacing Kiffin.
Davis regularly meets with his coaches and front-office people as a means of gauging the state of his team's operations. However, these meetings were convened to determine the best candidate to finish out this season, the sources said.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and wide receivers coach James Lofton have interviewed for the Raiders coaching vacancy in the past. Therefore, they are believed to be legitimate candidates, as well. Running backs coach Tom Rathman is a dark horse candidate based on his strong relationship with Davis.
Kiffin did not respond to an e-mail and phone call seeking comment for this story. However, at his weekly news conference Monday, he said he hadn't heard anything from Davis regarding his job security in recent days.
"No, I have not heard anything to date," Kiffin said. "Same story as every Monday when you guys (the media) ask me."
None of the known candidates has any NFL head-coaching experience. Cable and Hackett are the only ones of the aforementioned candidates who have any head-coaching experience at any level. Hackett was a head coach at the University of Pittsburgh and Southern Cal. Cable was a head coach at Idaho.
Davis hired Kiffin, 33, in January 2007 as the replacement for the fired Art Shell. The Raiders improved from 2-14 in Shell's lone season in his second term as their coach to 4-12 last season. They are 1-3 one-fourth of the way through this season.
Coincidentally, the only other time Davis fired a coach in the middle of a season came in 1989, when he jettisoned current Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan after a 1-3 start in his second season.
Firing Kiffin now gives his replacement most of two weeks to prepare for Oakland's next game, Oct. 12 against the New Orleans Saints.
Davis has refrained from speaking with the media in a formal setting for more than a year. That is expected to change Tuesday.
In doing so, people finally will hear from the person who matters most regarding all things Raiders, especially the failed relationship between Davis and Kiffin.
Kiffin on Monday said that it's time for him to cease answering questions regarding his face time with Davis.
"I'm going to kind of stop these questions here," Kiffin said, when asked the last time he spoke with Davis.
For the record, Kiffin said earlier this month that he last spoke with Davis before Oakland's Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos.
Any subsequent conversations between Kiffin and Davis "I'm going to keep between Al and I," Kiffin said. "I just feel we're going to open up too many things, and conversations that I do, or do not, have with him should stay between him and I."
Well, now it appears as if the next time Davis speaks with Kiffin, it will be to inform him that he no longer is the coach of the Raiders.
Kiffin's contract runs through the 2009 season. Therefore, Davis is contractually bound to pay Kiffin for the balance of this season and all of next season, a total that exceeds $3.5 million.
Kiffin and Davis have been at odds since the beginning of this past offseason, when Kiffin fired Ryan without Davis' consent. Davis overturned the move and informed Kiffin that his authority isn't as far-reaching as he thought.
Kiffin has voiced his displeasure with numerous things in the interim, directly or indirectly invoking Davis' name. Davis hasn't responded publicly to any of Kiffin's criticisms, observations and assertions.
The players on this year's team verbalized their support for Kiffin. However, they also said that they understand the instability of coaching in the NFL, and that they are prepared to move on if need be.
Notes: Running back Justin Fargas (groin), right guard Cooper Carlisle (ankle) and the other injured players are expected back at practice by midweek next week and available for the Saints game. "The bye comes at a good time for us," Kiffin said. "Health-wise, we're really beaten up, and it will really help us to get some of these guys back that either did not play at all (Sunday) or limited their roles during the game." ... The Raiders are off today, will practice Wednesday and Thursday, and then take off three days before preparing for the Saints game in earnest. That could change, though, based on the new coach's approach.
Contact Steve Corkran at firstname.lastname@example.org