ALAMEDA — Raiders coach Lane Kiffin is here for the long haul. That is, if he has his way. He made it clear Monday that he has no intention of walking away from the three-year contract he signed before last season.
That means the ball is in managing general partner Al Davis' court as to whether Kiffin lasts beyond today, Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers, the end of the season or whenever.
"There's no way I'm quitting, and that has got nothing to do with money at all," Kiffin said at his weekly news conference. "That has to do with our players. I talked a lot of these players into coming here at some point — obviously, money has a lot to do with that — in free agency over the last two years.
"A lot of our coaches, I recruited them and their families to come here and build this thing together. So, the last thing I'm ever going to do is quit. "... I believe we can turn this thing around. And there are a lot of good things going the right direction, and we're going to turn it around."
Two Internet stories surfaced Monday morning that said Davis "will fire Kiffin as early as (Monday)." Neither cited any concrete evidence. Kiffin's still here.
MediaNews reported Sept. 14 that Davis is prepared to fire Davis. Several front office people, who requested anonymity, said Kiffin's fate is at Davis' sole discretion. However, they said the logical time would be after the San Diego game, when a replacement would have two weeks to prepare for his first game as coach because of a bye week.
On Monday, Kiffin answered a handful of questions from a sizable media contingent, many of them there presumably as a result of Kiffin's reported impending doom.
Kiffin answered each question without losing his cool or seeking to stifle any subsequent inquiries about his job status.
At least one of the Internet reports said Kiffin had been told by "team officials" that Davis intended to fire him.
"I'm not going to get into what has been said around here by other people, or what I've been told by other people, because that really doesn't mean anything until the owner makes a decision and tells me himself," Kiffin said. "That's where it's at. I have not had a conversation with him about it nor has he gotten in touch with me. So, I can't worry about what other people say. If we believed everything people said around here, we would be in a lot of trouble."
Kiffin said he has not spoken with Davis since before the regular-season opener against Denver on Sept. 8. It isn't for lack of opportunity.
Davis attended practice Thursday and was available afterward. Also, Davis and Kiffin returned from road games in Kansas City and Buffalo the past two weeks on the same plane.
Kiffin said he loses sleep at night of late worrying about his team not playing as well as expected, but not "worrying about whether I'm going to be the head coach."
The persistent speculation is taking a toll on the players, Kiffin said.
"I get so many text messages saying, 'Is your coach fired?'" outside linebacker Thomas Howard said. "I'm like, 'Man, I don't know.' The media loves it. I guess it's great talk. It's drama. So, it makes for good TV, I guess. We can't worry about it, man.
"I know a lot of guys around here have been through two or three different head coaches. We've been through offseason stuff in this organization and, as a team, we just stick together."
Notes: The Alameda County district attorney's office Monday charged defensive tackle Tommy Kelly with driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level above the .08 legal limit. He's due in court Oct. 13 for an arraignment. Kelly submitted to two Breathalyzer tests. One registered .10, the other .09. He was arrested in Oakland eight days ago. "... Starting right guard Cooper Carlisle sustained a left ankle injury in Sunday's last-second loss to the Bills that Kiffin regards called "pretty bad." His situation will be re-evaluated as the week progresses. However, it appears as if Chris Morris will start in Carlisle's place Sunday. Defensive tackle Derrick Burgess underwent an MRI to determine the extent of the triceps injury he sustained Sunday. Also, defensive tackle Gerard Warren injured his left pectoral muscle Sunday. Kiffin said it is a partial tear, which makes it unlikely that Warren will play against the Chargers. "... Running back Justin Fargas' groin injury remains an issue. Therefore, he likely will miss his second straight game and not return until Oct. 12, one week after Oakland's bye week, Kiffin said. "... Kiffin said regular left offensive tackle Kwame Harris (knee) is expected back this week after missing the past two games. Mario Henderson replaced Harris during his absence, with mixed results. Against the Bills, Kiffin said, "Mario struggled. He did not play as well as the game before."
Contact Steve Corkran at firstname.lastname@example.org.