If your looking for the truth in all of this, your not going to find it. Who is telling the truth? Are they both lying? Is it possible both are telling the truth? Well, this post is going to directly deal with the truth as I see it. It is neither pro Davis, or pro Kiffin. I always try to write pro Raiders, and I’ll do that here.
It all started with the draft last year. Davis and his scouts loved Russell. Kiffin liked Calvin Johnson, Quinn, or others. I believe Davis told the truth about that, because it makes so much sense and rumors at the time supported this. Kiffin came to Davis with his recommendations in the draft. This is where the men first had conflict. Davis said we are drafting Russell, and Kiffin didn’t like it. I’m not sure what he said directly to Davis, but whether directly or indirectly Kiffin communicated to Davis that he didn’t believe he could win with Russell. If you know anything about Al Davis, you know making excuses about why you can’t win is going to irritate him.
There was rumor at the time, that Kiffin was upset with the roster cuts. Al Davis again viewed Kiffin’s comments as criticism of his boss. The relationship was starting to fracture.
The Arkansas job information really ate at Davis. Jerry Jones is a big time Arkansas alumni and contributor. I have no doubt Jones is the one that alerted Davis to Kiffin’s interest in the job. Jones is well connected in Razorback Football circles. How do you think the players would have felt about Kiffin if he left them for Arkansas? Petrino left midseason to beat Kiffin to the job, which may be true. I don’t believe Kiffin would have left midseason, but no doubt he thought about interviewing for the Arkansas job after the season knowing Davis wasn’t going to give him much power in picking players. Davis was open to that, but I bet he wasn’t happy.
This may be where Al Davis started to figure out his exit strategy for Kiffin, but I believe it didn’t come until season’s end. When Kiffin fired Ryan, which he had no power to do, Davis figured out Kiffin wasn’t the kind of coach that he could coexist with. Kiffin for the second time told Davis he couldn’t win with the resources he was given. Even if that was true, Kiffin should have never made excuses for why he couldn’t win. In Al’s world this is one of the seven deadly sins of a head coach. Not only did he say he couldn’t win, but he overstepped his authority. Davis does the hiring and firing. Davis told Kiffin to resign if he was unhappy or thought he couldn’t win. Kiffin’s ego takes over from here. His immaturity blinds him. I am not saying Davis is justified. Kiffin’s reaction is normal to a situation like this, but Kiffin should have been well aware of Davis and his world and either resigned or sucked it up and went about coaching what he had. Instead, it was likely Kiffin who leaked information to the media about a so called resignation letter that never existed (There are many sources that corroborate this evidence)
Instead, Kiffin started his silent protest and Davis started to build his case against Kiffin. Kiffin stopped wearing Raider’s gear. In Al’s world another sign of disrespect for his boss. If your boss likes you to wear a shirt with the corporate logo and you decide instead to wear a plain shirt. How happy does that make your boss? Not very, especially if your boss is the CEO and has a lot of pride in the company.
Most of this is just common sense. Natural and typical reactions to the world of Al Davis. Kiffin knew the world he was getting into. For some reason Kiffin decided to hurt the team, by fighting with Al Davis. Kiffin was a good coach, but his actions poisoned an always fragile relationship between Head Coach and Al Davis.
After the week one debacle in which the Raiders were obliterated by the Broncos. Davis had enough. He saw a defense use Kiffin’s schemes only to get burnt again and again. (I asked my friend during the game why we played so much zone. He didn’t have an answer). This scheme change also angered Davis, because it didn’t work and he has brought in the kinds of players capable of playing man. Icing on the cake really.
Davis decides he will do what any employer that wants to get rid of an emplyee would do. He will “write-up” his employee and tell them any minor infraction will get them terminated. He proceeded to give Kiffin the infamous letter. He decided too, to blame the signings of free agents on Kiffin as well. After all, Kiffin had something to do with them coming in, and Davis saw this as a way to shift any possible blame to Kiffin. Davis is equally to blame, but why not take the opportunity to blame them on Kiffin. Davis however, will take all the heat if Russell doesn’t pan out. It isn’t as if Davis doesn’t know he is on the hook for the free agents, but Kiffin was trying to blame those things solely on Davis, which isn’t accurate.
Kiffin’s statement about not speaking to Davis constituted the final act of insubordination.
I believe we are a better team minus the distraction and fractured coaching/front office staff.
I don’t plan to address much more about Kiffin going forward. I’d much rather talk about football.