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The Oakland Raiders fired Dennis Allen after the team began the 2014 with an 0-4 mark. Since Allen took the helm of the Raiders at the start of the 2012 season, only the Jacksonville Jaguars have fared worse.
It’s not exactly the most attractive coaching vacancy in the NFL, but it is one that somebody will take. It’s one of potentially four or five that could be available this offseason.
There are the usual suspects that’ll interview for the position, but it’s unknown how coveted the job will be. Here’s 11 potential candidates that could be patrolling the sidelines next year in the Black Hole.
Darrell Bevell: Probably the most coveted coordinator in the NFL, Seattle’s offensive coordinator will have the luxury of having his pick of whatever team he wants to coach for. It just seems unlikely it’ll be Oakland.
Bevell has helped make Seattle one of the most efficient offenses in the league, and has already turned down a number of head coaching opportunities to remain in the Pacific Northwest. I can’t imagine why Oakland would make him think differently.
Jack Del Rio: Denver’s defensive coordinator and interim head coach following John Fox’s medical scare has previous head coaching experience with the Jaguars, who he helped make a playoff team.
Del Rio was linked to the USC job last year because he hails from the Bay Area, which may make him eager to return home.
Adam Gase: The Broncos’ offensive coordinator also should have his pick of teams, and like Bevell has opted not to leave his post as a coordinator because no opportunity presented was viewed as an upgrade.
Gase seems unlikely to move over to the Raiders, though, for the same reason as Bevell. He’ll wait for the opportunity he wants.
Jon Gruden: Would for the former Raiders coach return a decade and a half later? Gruden has been linked to almost every NFL and major college head coaching gig since being fired by the Buccaneers, and not once has it seemed like he was remotely close to leaving the Monday Night Football booth.
Don’t count on a Gruden return in Oakland.
Jim Harbaugh: If the turmoil in San Francisco continues to mount, would Harbaugh elect to move across the Bay and help rebuild the Raiders?
If anything, it feels like Harbaugh would prefer to return to Michigan if he were to leave San Francisco. But perhaps he likes coaching in the NFL more than college, and the Raiders offer him a chance to stay in those ranks. Plus, they’d probably allow him more control, which is apparently what he wants.
Tony Sparano/Greg Olson: It remains to be seen which assistant will earn the interim head coaching tag, but both Sparano and Olson are rumored to be in the mix.
Sparano boasts head coaching experience, though despite one magical season in Miami he never seemed to stand out as a top-tier coach. Olson is being viewed as a strong candidate to take over in 2014, and if he finds success working with Derek Carr he may be able to win over the front office and become the full-time coach by 2015.
Frank Reich: Given Philip Rivers‘ early success in 2014, the Chargers’ offensive coordinator could be in the mix for head coaching opportunities sooner rather than later.
He’s a former quarterback, which may entice members of the Oakland front office, who have Carr and Carr alone to build around going forward.
Greg Roman: San Francisco’s offensive coordinator may want to stay in the Bay Area with the 49ers should Harbaugh leave town, but if not, he, too, has been in the conversation for some head coaching gigs.
His stock may be down given Colin Kaepernick‘s struggles, so seizing any head coaching opportunity this offseason might be the best move he can make.
Jim Tomsula: The 49ers’ defensive line coach was being considered for a handful of vacancies last offseason, and for good reason. He’s helped to construct one of the best defensive lines in football in San Francisco.
Tomsula has earned a lot of praise for the charisma he brings to the table, and that might be coveted by the Raiders’ front office looking to make a splash with their hire.
David Shaw: Also unlikely, but would be probably the biggest home run of them all. Shaw is at the forefront of college coaches being recruited to the NFL along with Kevin Sumlin and Nick Saban. He’s taken over Stanford from Harbaugh flawlessly, and has helped manufacture NFL talent by the dozens.
Shaw is a longshot, but I’m sure he’ll at least listen to what the Raiders have to offer. My gut says he’ll be back with the Cardinals for 2015, though.
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