Kiffin, 31, succeeds Shell as Raiders coach

Updated: January 23, 2007, 11:43 AM ET
By John Clayton |

After falling short in their attempt to hire USC assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian, the Raiders tapped the Trojans again on Monday night and came away with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin as their new head coach.

Lane Kiffin: Coaching Highlights
Lane Kiffin
• 2001-2006: USC assistant coach (offensive coordinator in 2005-06; also recruiting coordinator and receivers coach)
• 2000: Colorado State offensive line coach
• 1997-98: Fresno State graduate assistant

• 2000: Jaguars defensive quality control coach

The 31-year-old Kiffin signed a five-year deal to succeed Art Shell. A news conference to announce Kiffin's hiring is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Tuesday in Oakland.

Age will not be an issue, Kiffin said.

"I'm extremely ready for this opportunity," Kiffin told the Minneapolis Star Tribune for Tuesday's editions. "The last six years [at USC] have prepared me for this. I'm extremely excited to have the chance to restore this program back to where it's been before."

Kiffin, who grew up in the Minneapolis area, was passed over earlier in the offseason for the job at the University of Minnesota, which went to Denver Broncos tight ends coach Tim Brewster.

"All the things that happened the last few weeks have happened for a reason, and everything has worked out the way it was supposed to for everyone," Kiffin told the Star Tribune. "At a time like this, you really think about everyone who has helped you along the way, and a lot of those people are back in Minneapolis. I'm grateful for that."

Youngest NFL Head Coaches
[Debuted In 1970 Or Later]
Year Team Coach Years Days
2007 Raiders Lane Kiffin* 32 123
1992 Bengals Dave Shula 33 101
1998 Raiders Jon Gruden 35 20
1992 Steelers Bill Cowher 35 121
2007 Steelers Mike Tomlin* 35 178
2006 Jets Eric Mangini 35 234
Note: Based on age on date of first game as head coach.
* -- Age on Sept. 9, 2007 (projecting Steelers' and Raiders' first games falls on that Sunday).

On Sunday, Raiders owner Al Davis reached out again to Kiffin, son of Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Kiffin flew to Oakland on Sunday night and spent all day Monday talking to Davis. As the evening approached, his ascent was nearly complete -- negotiations for a contract started and concluded quickly.

Kiffin was a six-year member of Pete Carroll's staff at USC. Carroll hired him to coach tight ends in 2001 after Kiffin spent the 2000 season in Jacksonville as a defensive quality control coach working with defensive backs. Kiffin switched to coaching USC wide receivers in 2002. In 2004, he took over passing game coordinator duties before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2005. He also had recruiting coordinator responsibilities.

Davis has a long history of hiring young, offensive-minded head coaches and he particularly likes offensive play-callers. Kiffin has done that at the highest level of college football for the past few years. He's worked with top NFL draft prospects such as wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett and former Lions first-round pick Mike Williams, another wideout.

Kiffin becomes the youngest NFL head coach in the modern era. Jon Gruden, Mike Shanahan and John Madden all succeeded as Raiders head coaches in their 30s, however, as did Davis.

Kiffin, at 31 years, 8 months, is 14 months younger than Madden was when the Hall of Fame coach took over the Raiders in 1969. Davis was 33 years, 6 months when he took charge of the Raiders in 1963.

Kiffin, a former Fresno State quarterback, is younger than at least nine players who finished the season with Oakland during its NFL-worst 2-14 campaign, including defensive tackle Warren Sapp, fullback Zack Crockett and receiver Alvis Whitted.

As a player, Kiffin was a quarterback for Fresno State from 1994 to 1996. He was a three-sport high school star in Bloomington, Minn. He started his coaching career after college working as a grad assistant at Fresno State.

Kiffin is expected to keep Rob Ryan, who also interviewed for the job, as his defensive coordinator. Former Giants coach Jim Fassel and Chargers receivers coach James Lofton were also interviewed for the job.

John Clayton is a senior writer for Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer