Head Coach Wanted
The axe came down today on Norv Turner mercifully ending a pitiful 2 year run as the Raiders Head Coach. When your company slogan is “Just Win Baby”, Turner’s record of 9-23 (1-11 in the division) left Al Davis no choice but to send Norv on his merry way. Let the speculation begin on who Al chooses to lead the Silver and Black back on to the path of greatness.
There isn’t a minute to be wasted on the identifying, recruiting and hiring process of the new head coach. It is imperative to have the new head coach on board sooner rather than later. This is especially true when you consider the demands of being a newly hired head coach in the NFL; (hiring of new coaching staff, roster evaluation, the 2006 draft, the free agent market, installing new systems, training camp, etc.)
Finding and hiring a head coach who is the right fit for the Raider organization will be challenging to say the least. One of the major hurdles to navigate will be finding a head coach who will be a willing and able partner with Renegade Al. Al’s reputation as a maverick, unorthodox owner is well deserved. The ability to co-exist with Al and have a healthy, give and take working relationship will be critical. I think it is a fatal error in judgment to discount Al's persuasive skills to lure the right candidate for the job. No one should discount the prestige of being the head coach for the Oakland Raiders either. I also think Al will need to loosen up the reins a bit and give the new head coach the full authority that the position requires.
Al and the newly hired HC can immediately turn around the offense's shortcomings. This will be achieved first by kicking Collins to the curb and then selecting a veteran QB by trade or through free agency that has proven game management and leadership skills.
When speculating about possible HC candidates for the Raiders, it interesting and somewhat amusing how it becomes a process of elimination. Has Al ever hired a HC straight from the college ranks? No. Has Al ever hired a defensive minded HC? No. Another prominent eliminator is the salary of potential candidates. It is hard to envision Al forking out a fair market contract to a HC who is already being highly compensated by his current employer (ie. Nick Saban at LSU being hired away by Miami).
Al's history of hiring head coaches tends to fall into 3 distinct categories;
1. Retreads/NFL coaching vets; (Mike White, Joe Bugel, Norv Turner)
2. Promotions/Company Men; (John Madden, Tom Flores, Art Shell, Bill Callahan)
3. Diamonds in the rough/no NFL HC experience; (Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden).
Here is a speculative list of head coaching candidates to consider that fall into 1 of the above 3 categories;
Retreads/NFL coaching vets:
Steve Mariuchi – fired in Detroit after Thanksgiving Day game
Mike Sherman – fired on Monday by Green Bay
Mike Tice – fired on Monday by Minnesota
Dom Capers – fired on Monday by Houston
Jim Haslett – fired on Monday by New Orleans
Jim Fassell – current offensive coordinator at Baltimore; former HC of NY Giants
Promotions and/or Company Men:
Rob Ryan – current Defensive Coordinator
Art Shell – former player and Head Coach; currently V.P. executive of NFL
Diamonds in the Rough and/or no NFL head coaching experience:
Mike Singletary – current Defensive Assistant Coach at S.F.
Sean Payton - current offensive coach at Dallas; interviewed with Al for HC in 2004
Scott Linehan – current Offensive Coordinator at Miami
Russ Grimm - current offensive coach at Pittsburgh
Maurice Carthon – current Offensive Coordinator at Cleveland
Pat Hill – current Head Coach at Fresno State; previous NFL coach experience
Based on Al's hiring practices the past 30+ years it looks like the HC pool shrinks down considerably. If you toss out category 1 (who wants another retread?) it boils down to Rob Ryan, Art Shell, and the diamonds in the rough. You can eliminate Rob Ryan and Mike Singletary since both come from the defensive side of the ball. You can eliminate Pat Hill since Al has never hired a coach straight from the college ranks. Now you are left with Art Shell, Sean Payton, Scott Linehan, and Maurice Carthon.
Art Shell would be the safe, reliable choice having compiled a 56-41 record with 3 playoff appearances in his stint as HC of the Raiders from 1989-1994. Sean Payton was very close to becoming the Raiders Head Coach in 2004 for but got cold feet. Scott Linehan is a brilliant offensive mind and play caller. Maurice Carthon has an impeccable coaching pedigree having worked under Bill Parcells (Pats, Jets, Cowboys) and with Bill Belichick (Pats, Jets). He is also a former player under Parcells who was on 2 Super Bowl championship teams with the N.Y. Giants.
Will Al break his pattern to hire Pat Hill or Mike Singletary? Singletary would be an inspired choice. Is there another diamond in the rough that will be a bold stroke of genius to hire? Or in the final analysis, will Al go for the safest choice, Art Shell? This next HC decision is paramount to the success (or failure) of the Raiders. Stay tuned.
I bleed Silver and Black,