Kiffin says he hasn't been told he'll be replaced as coach

Updated: September 23, 2008, 3:30 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Lane Kiffin went over the injury report and the aftermath of the Oakland Raiders' latest loss before the questions predictably turned to his shaky job status amid more reports that his firing as coach would be imminent.

Can't Win For Losing

They've lingered since January, but questions over Raiders coach Lane Kiffin's job status hit a crescendo after Sunday's 28-18 loss to the Chargers.

Worst Win Percentage
Raiders Head Coaches
(Since NFL-AFL Merger)
Coach Span Record Pct.
Joe Bugel 1997 4-12 .250
Lane Kiffin 2007-08 5-15 .250
Norv Turner 2004-05 9-23 .281
Mike Shanahan 1988-89 8-12 .400

"This seems to be a common question here every day," Kiffin said Monday. "I'm going to kind of put it this way: Until I am told by Al Davis that I'm not the head coach here anymore, we're going to keep plugging away the same way we have been. So I have not been told by Al Davis that I am not the head coach. Until he tells me directly, we'll keep plugging away."

Sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen on Sunday that Kiffin was informed by a Raiders executive late Sunday night that he would be fired on Monday.

With no word yet from the owner, Kiffin began preparations for Sunday's game between the Raiders (1-2) and San Diego.

Kiffin's weekly Monday news conferences have turned from the mundane to must-see events since reports about Kiffin's firing first surfaced on Sept. 13. This week's session included a Raiders official interrupting a question that he said was based on an incorrect premise and later calling the San Jose Mercury News columnist a liar and saying he'd like to punch him.

On Tuesday morning, Kiffin called the columnist, Tim Kawakami, and apologized for the incident, even though it was Raiders senior executive John Herrera who verbally accosted Kawakami.

Team officials have refused to deny the reports about Kiffin's firing and the coach has been in a sort of limbo ever since. But he once again trotted out for his weekly duties, staying on as coach for at least a little while longer.

He returned with the Raiders from a crushing 24-23 loss at Buffalo to reports that the decision was supposed to come Monday, but Davis has refused to act so far. Kiffin refused to discuss the latest rumors, saying he's waiting to hear directly from Davis. The two have not talked since before the season opener against Denver on Sept. 8.

Kiffin said he will not go into Davis' office to ask for a resolution, saying it's not his place to tell Davis how to run his team. He also won't step away from the job, leading to the ongoing ordeal.

"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," Kiffin said. "If we believed everything people said around here, we would be in a lot of trouble."

Kiffin said he will not go into Davis' office to ask for a resolution, saying it's not his place to tell Davis how to run his team. He also won't step away from the job, leading to the ongoing ordeal.

"There's no way I'm quitting, and that's got nothing to do with money, at all," he said. "The last thing I'm ever going to do is quit, the way that you guys are talking about quitting or even quit behind closed doors, as far as my energy or my passion toward getting this thing turned around. Because I believe we can turn this thing around."

Kiffin has stressed to the players to tune out the distraction of his job security and focus solely on their performance on the field. He was proud of how his players performed last week in winning at Kansas City and for the first three quarters of their loss at Buffalo on Sunday.

But they were unable to hold onto a nine-point fourth-quarter lead, giving Kiffin reason for a sleepless night. Linebacker Thomas Howard said ignoring the talk can be hard at times with friends text messaging all the time about Kiffin's status and reporters asking about it. But he said the players are doing the best they can.

"I guess it's great talk. It's drama. It's TNT? It's drama, you know what I'm saying?" Howard said. "So it makes for good TV, I guess. We can't worry about it. 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."

While some players talked last week about how the situation with Kiffin could help the team rally around a cause, the coach discounted that as a Hollywood theory and admitted that it makes it harder to do his job.

"I'm not going to sit up here and lie and say it helps and that it brings our team together and we're going to bond together like the movie 'Major League,' like somebody told me," Kiffin said. "It doesn't help. But I can't control it so all I can do is keep our team together."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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