Click photo to enlarge
49er's Steve Young gets advice from Steve Mariucci. FIle PHOTO BY GARY REYES

Our lovable, irascible Uncle Al does not listen to me, to you, to the commissioner, or to anybody.

I know this, but I still must offer my consulting services, even after I was rebuffed when I tried to hand-deliver Jim Harbaugh to the Raiders last year.

Oh well. These days, the rambunctious Stanford coach almost certainly has better options than the Raiders.

This January, I've got another suggestion: What about replacing Tom Cable with Steve Mariucci?

That is, if the Raiders will come close to finally paying market rate for a fairly famous coach.

Yes, I realize that Al Davis dislikes all outside opinions and doesn't pay particular attention to inside opinions, either.

We know Al hires offensive-minded guys, period. We know he usually alternates between brainy coordinator-types and blue-collar line coaches. So, after Cable, Davis is due for a brainy coordinator this time.

We also know that Davis does things when he's good and ready, and then maybe waits three or four days after that to get around to telling us.

It should be no surprise that Al made no move on Cable last week (when other teams did their firings), or Monday (when many expected it, possibly including Cable) or Tuesday.

What's the rush? It's not like Al's in a panic about an 11-loss season. The Raiders do that every year!

But even Davis has to realize he's not hiring Jon Gruden or Nick Saban, doesn't want Bill Cowher and could never attract a top NFL assistant such as Jason Garrett or Brian Schottenheimer.


Advertisement

Let's run through Al's realistic options at this point:

  • Best-case scenario: Mariucci, who wants to get back into coaching after his Detroit debacle and spending too much time sitting next to Deion Sanders on the NFL Network set.

    For a while Tuesday, it looked like USC was about to hire Mooch. But stunningly, Lane Kiffin swooped in from Tennessee to grab the Los Angeles mega-job.

    Believe me, nobody's more startled by this development than Al, who loves the USC program and, to put it mildly, does not love Kiffin.

    But now Mariucci is without a team. Gee, is there one out there?

    Mariucci has a good history with skittery quarterbacks, so Al might be able to envision a solid Mooch-JaMarcus Russell pairing; plus, with his 49ers background, Mariucci could sell some tickets.

    Flatly, Mariucci might be the only potential game-changer available to Al right now.

    Problem: What if Mariucci plays hard to get? Going after Mariucci could cost Al money and pride, and he can be stingy with both when it involves coaching hires.

  • Middle-case scenario: Find a college coordinator who can bond with Russell; the list might start with Stanford's David Shaw (if Al wants to go young) or the Miami Hurricanes' Mark Whipple (if he wants to go with experience).

    Shaw, who has tutored Andrew Luck, was an offensive assistant with the Raiders from 1998-2000, and his father, Willie, was Gruden's first defensive coordinator in Oakland.

    Whipple was a position coach with the Steelers, was a head coach at UMass and Brown and has done nice work with Miami's Jacory Harris.

    Problem: This is exactly the model Davis used when he hired Kiffin and accidentally launched Kiffin's wild coaching career.

  • Lower-middle-case scenario: Find a proven NFL coordinator-type; we know the list — Kevin Gilbride, Marc Trestman, Jim Fassel or Dennis Green.

    Problem: None of those guys are guaranteed to click with Russell or excite Raiders Nation.

  • Wild-card scenario: Mike Martz, Mike Leach or 49ers quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson.

    Al would be taking a risk with any of those guys, for differing reasons.

  • Worst-case scenario: Keep Cable.

    Nothing against Cable, per se. He did about as good a job in 2009 as he could have, given the QB, roster and front-office support that he had.

    But that's the problem. He did as well as he could've, and the Raiders were 5-11; Russell was a disaster.

    Keeping Cable would be an admission that Davis can't summon the energy or adaptability to land a higher-grade of coach. It might mean the end of Russell's Raiders career.

    I can't see Davis accepting any of that. He's backed into yet another corner. But I'm offering him a way out. Pay Mariucci, take a shot.

    It's not the worst thing that could happen, because the Raiders have experienced the worst for seven consecutive seasons.

    Contact Tim Kawakami at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.