LAST SEASON, Tuesday of the Raiders' bye week signaled the flamboyant end of Lane Kiffin's controversial coaching tenure.
Arguably, Tom Cable deserves the same fate today.
But Kiffin doesn't think so.
"Any head coach deserves a certain amount of time to get things going and install what he wants to install. Tom has not had enough time," Kiffin said by phone Monday from his office as the University of Tennessee's coach. "I would think he definitely should have another season after this, at least."
Really? Even after more assault allegations surfaced against Cable on Sunday, via ESPN's report pertaining to claims of two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend?
"If any of that was accurate, that would surprise me," Kiffin added. "In my year-and-a-half with Tom, I never saw anything like that. I thought he was a first-class coach and a great person."
Lane Kiffin, character witness. Odds are that won't boost Cable's standing with Raiders patriarch Al Davis as he weighs another coaching change during another bye week.
What will help Cable keep his job is that he hasn't followed Kiffin's lead and muttered any derogatory statements regarding the Raiders' working conditions or power structure.
Cable continues to pledge his silver-and-black loyalty while dismissing concerns about any black-and-blue anger management. As for his actual coaching ability, a 2-6 record and the league's worst-ranked offense make for damning evidence.
On Monday, Cable stood by the statement he released Sunday. In it, he confessed to striking his first wife some 20 years ago. Thus, the Raiders have an admitted wife-beater as their coach.
That is unacceptable.
Perhaps the Raiders have begun to acknowledge the same thing. A team statement Monday went beyond mentioning how an investigation is under way into those assault claims. The team condemned such conduct and even cited it as cause for past terminations.
(FYI: The Raiders issued a separate release questioning ESPN's truth-telling capacity.)
Cable said he has not had discussions with Davis about the matter. Cable better be telling the truth. If you'll recall, Davis lambasted Kiffin for lying to the media about their line of communication, and Davis cited that in his case to fire Kiffin "with cause."
Kiffin carefully watched his words Monday. He's attempting to recoup last season's unpaid wages, a case still in the hands of an arbitrator. Kiffin feared that whatever he said would be spun and used against him by Davis.
Asked what the Raiders must do to improve, Kiffin sheepishly replied: "I can't go there. I'd love to. I think you know what my answer would be."
That presumably would be to stage a palace coup and overthrow Davis, who kept close tabs on Kiffin's insubordinate words throughout his 20-game Raiders tenure.
When termination day came, Davis put on a show for the ages in a two-part news conference. Davis even cued an overhead projector to show the media a three-page letter he sent Kiffin to cease and desist all negativity about the Raiders.
One flash point to Davis' character assassination of Kiffin: Their respective views on quarterback JaMarcus Russell, whom the Raiders drafted No. 1 overall shortly after Kiffin was hired to replace Art Shell.
"I don't think it's important now because I love the guy, (but) he had JaMarcus all wrong," Davis said at that Sept. 30, 2008, news conference.
Since then, Russell hasn't shown enough signs he is the right answer to the Raiders' offensive woes. Nor has Cable.
Kiffin, meanwhile, is loving life away from Al-catraz. He's on a roll with his multimillion-dollar gig in the mighty Southeastern Conference. After a volatile offseason filled with bravado and minor NCAA violations, Kiffin has coached his Vols to a 4-4 record, including big wins recently over Georgia and South Carolina and a surprisingly close loss to then-No. 1 Alabama.
Kiffin considered his Raiders' stint "very valuable," and Cable is a reason why.
"I thought I had a very good relationship with Tom Cable. I think he is a great coach," Kiffin said. "It's unbelievable the way he teaches offensive line. We use a lot of his technique stuff and drill here, and it's helped us improve the running game here. He is a great technician as an offensive line coach."
As a head coach, however, Cable's greatness is missing, save for his ability to dismiss assault allegations.
Kiffin seemed sincere in vouching for Cable. Take that however you see fit. As Davis said last year in firing Kiffin: "He conned me like I think he conned all you people."
Is Cable conning us, too? If so, that can't continue any longer, and it won't.