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North Team coach Lane Kiffin, of the Oakland Raiders, reacts near the end of a 17-16 loss to the South Team in the Senior Bowl football game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. At right are players Chad Rinehart (72), of Northern Iowa, and Sam Baker (79), of Southern California. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
GOOD WITH words, possessing a touch of flamboyance, DeAngelo Hall is the kind of marquee player whose visibility would give the Raiders something they desperately need and say they want.

Namely, good publicity.

By all accounts, the Raiders newest acquisition is eager to introduce himself through the local media. Do some TV, be heard on radio, get his comments and his picture in the papers. Maybe give the fan a reason to feel better about this uncomfortable and profoundly expensive offseason.

Through his first four days as a Raider, the 24-year-old cornerback has seen the halls of the Alameda facility and parts of the Bay Area but spent not a minute conveying his joy to the general public.

Which might have something to do with the live grenade that is Lane Kiffin's status.

While the NFL is abuzz with discussion over Kiffin's predicament, with endless conjecture about his future, the coach has been rather silent. No official response to the Gentle Shove, wherein owner Al Davis essentially invited Lane to leave. No official comment on the Rob Ryan fiasco, wherein Rob was prepared to move on, with Lane's blessing, only to be retained by Al. Zipped lips regarding the hiring of James Lofton, wherein Lane discovered Lofton was an assistant coach for the Raiders. Kiffin has been mute about the Great Gear flap, wherein he opted not to wear his customary Raiders attire while coaching at the Senior Bowl.

While 49ers coach Mike Nolan roams the studios of the NFL Network, getting valuable camera time, saving face after an organizational "shakeup," Kiff's profile is lower than that of the assistant basketball coach at the local community college.

The focus, instead, is on Al. How he's betting the house. How — by committing to roughly a quarter-billion dollars in new contracts — he's spending like with utter disregard to anything beyond 2008.

Which leaves the Raiders to figure out what to do about a head coach whose authority has been usurped, perhaps irreparably, but shows no desire to leave simply because the door is open.

If Al wants Kiffin gone, find $3 million or $4 million to pay off his contract. The parade of wealthy new Raiders is proof the boss will spend for the right cause. If Al trusts himself enough to pay Kwame Harris $14 million over three years to protect JaMarcus Russell's blind side — yes, Harris is pencilled in at left tackle — Al ought to trust himself enough to find a coach he can respect.

But if Al wants to keep Kiff and give this union the slightest chance to be successful, he would have to undo much of what has been done.

For it's virtually impossible for a coach to succeed when he has been kneecapped from above. When Warren Sapp, who in retirement has nothing to risk, can say the Raiders are back to wondering who's in charge.

To the contrary, QB Killa, everybody knows who's in charge.

The same guy who signed Jeff George, then personally introduced him in 1997. The guy who signed Sapp. The guy who signed Derrick Burgess and LaMont Jordan and Ray Buchanan and Kerry Collins and Trace Armstrong and Rod Woodson and Eric Allen and the late Eric Turner and Jeff George and Desmond Howard and Larry Brown — to name some of the big-splash free agents since the team returned to Oakland in 1995.

Many of these players were introduced in surroundings befitting a major announcement. Lots of cameras, dozens of reporters, satellite trucks parked outside. Al and/or his head coach sharing the stage with the new man.

How, exactly, would that work now?

Would the Raiders put Hall on display next to Kiffin? Lane wasn't even quoted in the original release announcing Hall's signing.

Would they keep Lane behind the curtain and pair the brash cornerback with Al? Davis, after all, is said to have made Hall such a high priority that he was personally involved in the negotiations.

Do they pair Hall with Ryan? Since Rob runs the defense and Hall is on that unit, this would be another chance to put the head coach in his place. 

Or do they place Hall on stage between Al and Lane? You know, a show of organizational harmony, complete with frozen smiles, votes of confidence and maybe a few flying chest bumps.

This illustrates the hole in the theory that projects a revival in the wake of Al's Big Giveaway. As Washington owner Daniel Snyder might tell you, winning is less about spending sprees than having practical, creative, sure-handed, daily leadership.

The Raiders instead have a severely compromised head coach trying to develop an inexperienced quarterback, while supervising a defensive coordinator he likely would have replaced, while trying to avoid contact with the boss and hope to be heard by his players.

Which leaves the Raiders to decide how to present Hall, who is willing to promote the brand. The desire for this was made clear by the Raiders in a recent meeting with executives of this newspaper.

What they discovered is organizational turmoil and a 19-61 record over five seasons make good pub hard to find. Hard to reach, even when it's right under your nose.

Monte Poole can be reached at (510) 208-6461 or by e-mail at

mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com.