There was no official word from the Raiders on Sunday regarding their coaching search. Too bad about that.
Not because Sunday's conference championship games lacked for excitement. And not because there's much drama to be squeezed from the Raiders' situation, given that the available logic leads to Tom Cable returning for the 2010 season.
No, the pity here is that the team's official word, as delivered lately by senior executive John Herrera, has come to be the most exciting play in football. Let's roll the tape.
When it was reported that Raiders managing partner Al Davis had reached out to Stanford's Jim Harbaugh: "Totally false," Herrera spat.
When it was reported that the Raiders had interest in Jim Fassel, Hue Jackson and/or Marc Trestman: "I would vociferously deny that any head coaching interviews are taking place while (Davis) is still meeting with Cable," Herrera said. Vociferously.
When it was suggested that Davis was taking his jolly sweet time deciding what to do about a head coach, Herrera channeled his inner Watergate-era Richard Nixon: "We've never made any statements that the head coach would not be back. That has been media speculation from the beginning. We've consistently stated that we're going through an evaluation process to determine the direction that the organization needs to go. The process is ongoing, and it has not reached a conclusion."
In fairness to the speculative media, Cable's record, dust-up with assistant Randy Hanson and stated belief that owner's pet JaMarcus Russell kept the team from making the playoffs last season makes him the kind of figure to whom speculation naturally gravitates. But we digress.
The point here is the ham-handed manner in which the team operates. It's amateur hour, like grown-ups playing house. And you can start with their assertion that the coaching search is a product of someone else's imagination.
For one, in 15 years since moving the Raiders back to Oakland, Davis has fired six head coaches and traded one. That's Steinbrennarian turnover right there. So even if this was a case of premature speculation, it's based on immutable historical precedent.
For two, conjecture over Cable's job status has been going on for months. If Cable's job was safe, it would be a simple matter to get that message out. For example, Davis could tell reporters, "Cable's job is safe."
See how easy?
For three, this business about internal review is a head-scratcher. Making a call on a head coach isn't that difficult. Within 16 days of the end of the regular season, six teams (Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, San Diego and Buffalo) hired new coaches or decided to retain their old ones. Davis is now beginning his fourth week of deliberation on a decision almost devoid of gray area.
Hey, it's a free country. Davis can be as contemplative and unforthcoming as he wants — as he proved last season, when he left Cable twisting in the wind for six weeks before announcing he was signing the erstwhile interim to a two-year contract.
But what is that? Indecision? Overdue diligence? Stealth behavior for its own sake? It's tough to come up with an explanation that casts the Raiders in a favorable light.
And for four, Herrera's haughty proclamations qualify as thigh-slapping unintentional humor. But then, that's a Raiders tradition. It was only a couple weeks ago that former Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon called to see if there was any way he could help his former team.
Herrera's response: "It's Rich that needs the help."
And it was only a few years ago that the team issued a press release ripping the NFL Network for having the audacity to relegate the 1983 Raiders to 20th on its ranking of Super Bowl winners.
And it was a mere 12 years ago that the Raiders issued a release titled, "The Oakland Raiders respond to Al Michaels(') blather," which read in part: "Michaels doesn't have an ounce of truthfulness or morality in his body."
Bombast is one thing when you're a perennial Super Bowl contender. Then it can be passed off, semi-plausibly, as eccentric genius. When you're working on a NFL-record string of seven 11-loss seasons, it gives the impression that even the most basic procedural decisions leave you in a state of intellectual gridlock.
The Raiders, one expects, would have something to say about that. The sooner the better, now that we have two weeks to kill before the Super Bowl.
Contact Gary Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.