Raiders fire head coach Kiffin

The Oakland Raiders-Lane Kiffin soap opera is finally over, as the embattled head coach was fired on Tuesday afternoon.

The Oakland Raiders-Lane Kiffin soap opera is finally over, as the NFL club fired the embattled head coach on Tuesday.

"Lane Kiffin has been released as head coach of the Oakland Raiders for cause," the NFL team said in a news release, which would indicate that it does not intend to pay Kiffin the $3.5 million US left on his contract, which runs until 2010.

Owner Al Davis was believed to be irked by Kiffin's criticisms of the team. Those critiques reached a peak when Kiffin distanced himself from the defence after a blowout loss in the season opener, saying that was under the control of co-ordinator Rob Ryan and Davis.

The team's performance is also an issue, as the Raiders are off to a poor start to the 2008 season. Sunday's 28-18 loss to San Diego, which rallied from a 15-0 halftime deficit, dropped Oakland to 1-3.

The Raiders are 5-15 since Kiffin took over before last season.

Kiffin's successor was not named by the club, although the top candidates are believed to be offensive line coach Tom Cable, defensive co-ordinator Rob Ryan, receivers coach James Lofton and offensive co-ordinator Greg Knapp.

Whoever he is, the next coach will be Oakland's fifth in six seasons.

The Raiders have a bye this week so the new coach's first game will be Oct. 12 at New Orleans.

Refused to resign

Kiffin was the second NFL coach to be fired in as many days. The St. Louis Rams terminated Scott Linehan on Monday.

Tuesday's move by the Raiders comes after months of speculation that it was only a matter of time before Kiffin would be axed.

Kiffin's job security was in question as far back as January, when a dispute with Davis over whether he could replace Ryan as defensive co-ordinator led to the owner sending his coach a letter of resignation to sign.

Kiffin refused to sign it, and the feud went on throughout the off-season as Kiffin questioned big-money signings and other personnel moves made by Davis.

Then came the humiliating 41-14 loss to Denver in the season opener after which Kiffin ripped Davis's involvement in the defence.

Three days after that, reports surfaced that Davis was ready to fire his coach at any time, and it dragged out from there. 

With files from the Associated Press