Defection to K’ville irks Raiders’ coach
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 3:51 pm
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Interim Raiders coach Tom Cable lashed out at assistant offensive line coach James Cregg on Monday for leaving with two games left in the season and joining former coach Lane Kiffin’s staff at Tennessee.
Cregg told Cable of his decision to depart the Raiders on Sunday night, telling him he was taking a job with the Volunteers.
“Quite frankly, I’m disappointed by all these things, mostly by the fact that someone would quit on this organization, this football team and this head coach at this juncture,” Cable said Monday. “It’s wrong.”
It’s the latest strike in the feud between Kiffin and Raiders owner Al Davis, which started a year ago when Kiffin wanted to interview for the head coaching job at Arkansas before finishing his first season in Oakland.
Davis tried to get Kiffin to resign in the offseason, but the coach refused. Then Kiffin spent the next months criticizing personnel and other decisions he said were made by Davis before getting fired Sept. 30 for cause.
Davis called Kiffin a liar at the news conference announcing the firing and said he would not pay him the remainder of his contract. Kiffin later filed a grievance to recover the approximately $2.6 million he was still owed under the deal.
Kiffin then was introduced as Tennessee’s new coach on Dec. 1 and now he has taken one of Oakland’s coaches away with two games remaining in the season.
“I think that’s the wrong way to handle things,” Cable said. “I think that anybody in their right mind would understand the college rules. They’re in a dead period starting next weekend. So James’ services are really only needed for the next five days, at which time we’ll be done in a couple weeks. In terms of that, if James wanted to take a position, he should have at that time.”
Cable said he was angry at Kiffin for taking a coach during the season, saying that he once had a lot of respect for him. He said he planned to call Kiffin to confront him on the issue.
“It’s wrong,” Cable said. “Wrong in this business, wrong in the business of coaching.”
A Tennessee spokeswoman declined to comment on Cregg’s apparent hiring and Cable’s criticisms of Kiffin.
Mark Jackson, who was brought in by Kiffin to be director of football development, also has left the team and will be paid for the remainder of his contract or until he finds another job. Cable also fired Kiffin’s brother-in-law, Steve Reaves, who had been an office assistant with the team.
Cable, who was offensive line coach before taking over from Kiffin, had shifted much of the day-to-day responsibility to Cregg as he focused on play-calling and running the entire team. Cable will now have to spend more time with the line, as well as on his other duties.
He said the linemen were particularly upset with Cregg’s decision.
“You don’t do that,” he said. “You never quit. You never quit, I don’t care what it is. You don’t quit.”
Cregg was one of three coaches who had worked with Kiffin before coming to the Raiders, spending a year together on the staff at Colorado State.
Tight ends coach Kelly Skipper worked with Kiffin at Fresno State and special teams coach Brian Schneider was on the Colorado State staff with Kiffin.
Cable said he asked all his coaches if anyone else planned to leave and they all said they were staying for the remainder of the season.
Cable’s future status is in limbo as well.
He has a 2-8 record since taking over Kiffin on an interim basis and has done little to warrant coming back next season.
“I’m just worried about today and the mentality and the mind-set of this football team,” he said. “My future will take care of itself. I’m a good coach. I want to be the head coach here. I will just leave it at that.”