Raiders’ coaching search to inc­lude Gruden

ALAMEDA — The term interim is Latin for “in the meantime.”

While there’s a possibility that Tony Sparano can change drop the “interim” from his current job title, that doesn’t mean the Raiders aren’t starting a large scale coaching search.

General manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis confirmed this week that a search will begin soon. And, that Jon Gruden — the presumed top choice — is going to be targeted again.

Perhaps more interestingly, Davis seemed to hint that Gruden is more interested than a lot of pundits think:

“He (Gruden) may reach out to me, I may reach out to him. I may reach out to anybody. That’s the future and I’m not going to talk about future coaches.”

The semi-evasive and semi-cryptic words came from Davis after the team introduced Sparano as interim head coach, alongside McKenzie, who was the first to broach the subject of a coaching search as a whole:

“I’m going to hire the next coach. Now, who that is, I’m focused on today. I’m focused on our next game and I’m focused on Coach Sparano. That’s what I’m about right now. I want to win this next game and that’s what I’m looking at now. As far as coaching search and all that, I’ll leave that up until later.”

McKenzie seems to have a daunting task ahead. Currently 0-4, with a recent Raiders tradition of the worst case scenario coming to fruition. Why would anyone want to work for the Raiders? Davis answered:

“I believe that the salary cap, the contracts, all of those things have been fixed. I think we’re going to have another $60, $65 million in cap space next year. So it’s quite an encouraging and enticing thing for a new head coach if in fact we go out to find one and go through a search, that this could be an organization they would want to be with.”

Sure, cash to spend is nice, especially if that coach shares the feelings Davis has about the roster, which are positive. Perhaps it’s enough to bring Gruden back out of retirement.

Regardless, the Raiders have already been contacted by prospective coaches, Davis confirmed:

“My resume box is wide open now and people are sending them in. … There’s a lot of people that are speculating on who it might be and who it might not be and everything else. And it’s kind of like how today went, that people were saying that Dennis had been fired yesterday and that he hadn’t and then people saying certain people have been hired and they haven’t.”

Davis is right. And really, speculating on coaches didn’t begin recently. It started up this time last year, when the Oakland Raiders were 1-3 — with their sole win against the Jacksonville Jaguars — following a 4-12 season in 2012.

McKenzie preached patience before, too, and it seems Davis has bought in. The question that will be answered soon enough, is whether notable coaches — or anyone that both Davis and McKenzie think can make the Raiders championship-caliber — would be interested.

It’s a process that Davis will have a larger role in than when Allen was hired. In the end, it’s McKenzie’s call. But Davis will be present, and will share his thoughts.

Davis is frustrated. Disappointed even, though he feels the team is headed in the right direction. He shared a story of walking the London streets this past week and seeing Raiders fans everywhere.

He feels bad. He feels their pain, and has been one of only a few owners in recent years that will actively engage with fans. He did it during the draft, as fans came to the team facility in Alameda, with Dr. Death offering Davis a memento.

Whether Davis can help deliver Gruden, or another coach that can right the ship, will be seen in time. But the Raiders will try, and their search begins soon.


Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.