Kiffin best served by leaving Oakland

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

At this point, being fired is probably best for Lane Kiffin. Kiffin's phone call from Raiders owner Al Davis today ended his 17 days on the hot seat. He was twisting in the wind for nearly three weeks and the entire Raiders organization was consumed by whether Davis would actually pull the trigger. Now that he has, it's best for Kiffin and the Raiders. Everyone can move on.

Kiffin, who had plenty of fan support in Oakland, leaves town knowing that his team played hard for him during this turbulent time and that he worked hard to the end. Remember, this is Oakland. Being fired by Davis is not exactly a novelty. Kiffin's career is not ruined by this. At 33, he is a bright, young coaching prospect with head-coaching experience.

Sure, it didn't work out in Oakland. Kiffin's record there was 5-15. But a losing record in Oakland this decade is nothing new either. Since losing the Super Bowl in the 2002 season, the Raiders are 20-64. The three other coaches -- Bill Callahan, Norv Turner and Art Shell -- were a combined 15-49.

Had the Kiffin-Davis relationship been able to work, there was a chance that Oakland could have had success with Kiffin. He has done a pretty nice job this year with the Raiders' young talent on offense. The players seemed to respond well to Kiffin and the team made progress even though the Raiders blew the last two games in the fourth quarter, at Buffalo and at home against San Diego.

There were signs that Kiffin was making progress in Oakland, but that didn't matter. Davis didn't like the way Kiffin handled himself and it was clear that his firing was only a matter of time. There is a school of thought that Kiffin's brutally honest approach to his job and his ability to stand up to Davis could hurt him in the future with other NFL owners or potential college jobs. No one wants a rabble-rouser.

But I believe prospective employers will realize that Kiffin was in a tough situation and won't worry about his combative tenure in Oakland.

Kiffin will no doubt emerge as a candidate for college jobs -- his name has been linked to a potential opening at Syracuse -- or offensive coordinator jobs in the NFL next year.

Because of Davis's decision to not pay him the remainder of his contract, Kiffin technically could join another staff this season. Whether that happens remains to be seen. But the end result is Kiffin is no longer in Oakland. And that's probably a good thing for him.