Kiffin vs. Davis; Olympics; Giants, Bob Fouts
And, when he’s replaced, Al Davis won’t have to go on an extended search for another coach. He’s already stockpiling candidates. James Lofton was added to the coaching staff as wide receivers coach earlier in the year, and he’s probably the leading candidate. He had interviewed for the head coaching job earlier. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, whom Kiffin wanted to fire, is still there. Paul Hackett, who has collegiate head coaching experience, has been added to the staff as an advance scout.
Kiffin is well aware that, in recent years, Raiders coaches have not set any longevity records. “When you take this job, you know what it is,” he said at camp this month.
Davis apparently thought Kiffin was angling to go back to college during the 2007 season, though there was never any indication it went beyond media rumors about the Arkansas job. There’s little doubt, though, that he’d like to go back to college and will next season, if he gets a reasonable offer. It won’t be for as much money as his Raider deal, but it will come with much less grief.
Meanwhile, he’s learned to deal with the reality of the situation. He had stars in his eyes when he first came to the Raiders, especially since it seemed Davis was looking at him as a surrogate for the Al Davis of the early ‘60s, a young coach who had been a former USC assistant and was getting his big break with the Raiders.
Kiffin had the kind of rah-rah attitude you associate with a college coach, which did not always sit well with his players and certainly not with the media. He seemed determined to keep information about the team from the media. His game-playing with not announcing his starting quarterbacks for each game was particularly silly. It didn’t affect the game planning for opponents, who knew that the Raiders weren’t any offensive threat, no matter how they had taking the snaps.
This year, there’s no mystery about the quarterback JaMarcus Russell is the choice, unless he's injured. Russell is a long way from being a polished quarterback but he has great potential. He throws well on the run, so he can be used on rollout patterns, especially important because the Raiders can’t pass protect. He’s as big as some defensive ends, so he can take a hit and remain on his feet.
There is no threat to him from the other two quarterbacks. Andrew Walter is a prototypical pocket passer, but see my earlier comment about pass protecting. He might thrive with another team but he’s of no use on this one. Marques Tuiasosopo, back with the team again, has never shown the consistency to make anybody think he can be a legitimate NFL quarterback.
After spending last season thinking that the media was his enemy, Kiffin now realizes that his enemy is sitting in the owner’s box. He has been amazingly candid with the media the last few months about his role in the organization.
Earlier this week, for instance, he spoke to Davis through the media when he said the team needed to add to its roster, specifically at corner back, where hey had nobody behind DeAngelo Hall and Nnamdi Asomugha. “I control what I can control,” he said, “and try to make the team better.”
Apparently, Davis was reading his comments because the next day, the Raiders added former Stanford cornerback Nick Sanchez, an undrafted free agent.
And, yes, when the owner/general manager/scouting director and the coach can only communicate through the media, it’s a ridiculous situation. But, that’s the Raiders.
Meanwhile, Kiffin is polishing his resume by doing the best job he can. He’s already changed the attitude of the team; the Raiders may still lose, but they’re not so accepting of it now. He’s installed an offensive system which fits his personnale, with an emphasis on the running game and play action passes, a necessity for a team that has Kwame Harris at left tackle.
Kiffin realizes it’s not a black mark to be fired by Al Davis, or forced to resign, which Davis was attempting to do earlier this year. Indeed, it’s almost a commendation.
So, when he gets that better offer from a college, he’ll take it – and no doubt send a condolence card to whoever succeeds him with the Raiders.
OLYMPICS: My only Olympics experience was for the Games in Los Angeles in 1984. I will treasure that forever, but I’m quite happy not to be in Beijing.
There are writers who brag about the big events they’ve covered. One I know listed the Super Bowls, Masters,etc., that he’d covered when he submitted a personal entry for Wikepedia.
I have not submitted a personal entry. For me, it’s all about my writing, and I’m happy that Google has a copious listing of my columns, including the most recent ones in the Examiner, and mentions of GlennDickey.com. If people want to know my personal history, they can find it in the “About Glenn” section on my website.
The problem with the big events is that you have no chance for personal interviews with competitors, so you wind up writing the same story that hundreds of others are writing. Think about this for a moment: When you read stories about the Super Bowl, can you remember an hour later who wrote them?
The Olympics have always posed another problem for me: The sports are mainly ones I never write about otherwise. I like to analyze and evaluate. How would I evaluate Mike Phelps winning the 200-meter butterfly?
So, in 1984, I did not even request a credential. The Chronicle paid my expenses, but I went to events as a spectator, on tickets I got either from the paper or an uncle who was very big in advertising in Los Angeles. I stayed in a Hyatt Regency downtown (which was superior to the media hotel) and went to various events from gymnastics to women’s volleyball. When the tickets designated for the then Soviet Union were turned back by the Soviets, I went out to Hollywood Park, where they were being re-sold, and talked to people buying them. It made for an interesting column. At least, I thought so.
I had a great time for about a week, then came home and watched the second week with my family on television. When I talked later to colleagues who had covered the Olympics in regular fashion, they all had hated the experience. I’m sure if I talk this year to those who are now in Beijing, I’ll hear similar complaints.
GIANTS WOES: The Giants mantra has been that they’re rebuilding around pitching, but that isn’t as simple as it was in the days when starters were expected to pitch complete games or close to is. Now, pitchers are on a pitch count, so it’s often a bullpen game.
So, the Giants have two excellent starters in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez has shown flashes, too. But when they have to come out of the game – as Lincecum did last night after he was hit by a line drive – the bullpen often blows the game. As a result, the Giants have yielded 553 runs and scored just 451 this year. That and a winning percentage of .424, which is better than only three other teams in major league baseball, are better indications of where the Giants are than the brilliance of a couple of starters.
And, about that pitch count: The old-timers, fans and media, who complain about young pitchers being taken out after throwing no more thn 120 pitches should remember that, when Jason Schmidt tied a Giants franchise record with 16 strikeouts, he threw more than 140 pitches. He was never the same again and has spent most of the last two seasons on the disabled list for the Dodgers.
PREDICTIONS: After I had written that the trade of Manny Ramirez probably meant that the Red Sox wouldn’t make the postseason, a Red Sox (and Giants) fan reminded me that I had written off the Giants’ chances in late August, 2002 – the year they eventually made it to the World Series.
Indeed I had. At the time I wrote that the Giants should start looking at 2003, there were about five weeks left in the season and they were third in their division, 10 ½ games out.
Guess what? I’d write the same column today – and it would be right at least nine times out of 10.
Many writers don’t like to make predictions. When I wrote before the 1985 season that Jim Davenport would be a disaster as the Giants manager, an Oakland columnist wrote, “How can you judge a cake before it’s baked?” Well, one way is to look at the ingredients. If there are no eggs in the recipe, you know that cake won’t be any good. In this case, I had known Davenport well (so had the Oakland columnist), and I had never observed any qualities that would make him a good manager.
The Giants lost 100 games that season, and Davenport was replaced by Roger Craig before it was over.
Obviously, not all my predictions have panned out – and I’m sure I’ll get more e-mails from readers pointing out those which haven’t. But I try to judge the likelihood of something happening and then make my predictions. The fact that I’m occasionally wrong is not going to stop me. If you prefer columnists who take no chances, you have plenty of choices.
OOPS: One of the problems about writing in the same market for as long as I have is that you run into father-son combinations and type in the wrong first name. I pulled a lulu last week, as several alert readers pointed out, when I referred to Bob Fouts as a Hall of Fame quarterback. It was, of course, Bob’s son, Dan, who was the quarterback – and now a commentator on college football.
Bob Fouts was the 49ers announcer when I started my journalistic career, 50 years ago, and was famous for calling out “The Red Dog is coming,” when teams blitzed. The blitz was used much less in that era, and the 49ers were known for their ability to pick it up. Years later, John Brodie told me the reason. Teams would only blitz one defender in those days, so a 49er back who was supposed to go out for a pass would hesitate one beat to see if a blitzer was coming. If he was, the back stayed in to block him. Football was much simpler in those days.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL is coming and tickets are available for hot matchups like USC-Ohio State, Michigan-Notre Dame and Arkansas-Texas on TICKETS! TICKETS! TICKETS!: Tickets for Cal home games - Michigan State, Aug. 30; Colorado State, Sept. 27; Arizona State, Oct. 4; UCLA, October 25; Oregon, Nov. 1; Stanford, Nov. 22; and Washington, Dec. 6 – are also available. New York will host the top tennis stars – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters – for the U.S. Open. On the concert state, Radiohead will be in San Francisco on August 22 and then at the Hollywood Bowl, August 24-25. Neal Diamond plays Fenway Park on August 23, Jimmy Buffett is at Boston’s Comcast Center on Sept. 6 and Tony Bennett will be at the San Francisco Symphony on Sept. 14. And, Madonna is back in the spotlight with her October tour. Just click on the local or national links and everything will come up.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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