Callahan as good as gone

There's nothing definitive but there's only one way to speculate Bill Callahan's future as the Oakland Raiders head coach – there won't be one.

The Raiders ended their season Sunday on the road against the San Diego Chargers with a 21-14 loss to cap a 4-12 season. Oakland also established a milestone with he worst one-year turnaround by a Super Bowl participant.

The 1998 Atlanta Falcons were a 14-2 Super Bowl runner-up before melting down with a 5-11 campaign in 1999. Callahan replaced Jon Gruden as the head coach in March 2002 after the Raiders shipped the latter to Tampa Bay for draft picks. Callahan has since experienced a career worth of highs and lows.

Objectively, it's not the easiest task to evaluate Callahan as a head coach because he has had two extremes in seasons. Callahan led the team to the Super Bowl as a rookie but should not be given all the credit. The next year his team stunk but should not be given all the blame. After all, no coach can be expected to be a doctor after 12 players go on injured reserve. The turmoil, however, is one issue where he should be held accountable to some degree.

Raiders owner Al Davis has not indicated one way or the other if Callahan will return. The odds of that happening, however, are slim and none – and slim headed down the highway a long time ago. Callahan signed a five-year contract but only the first two are, in effect, guaranteed followed by a series of one-year options. Predicting what Davis will do is guesswork.

Callahan lambasted his ballclub after a 22-8 loss to the Denver Broncos, referring to them as "the dumbest team in America." After that incident, he stood about a 20 percent chance of returning. The Raiders battled gamely in beating the AFC North champion Baltimore Ravens 20-12. That win, however, was followed by two uninspired loss to Green Bay and San Diego.

Callahan suspended running back Charlie Garner and cornerback Charles Woodson before Sunday's game because the two players reportedly violated teams rules. CBS television reported that both individuals missed curfew and did not return to the team hotel until 10 a.m. Sunday.

Earlier this season, Woodson criticized Callahan, saying he was arrogant and didn't listen to his veterans. The cornerback laid into the coach twice -- once on ESPN, again after the team's 23-13 loss at Detroit -- before Callahan responded with any appearance of conviction.

Earlier this month, Woodson was asked if he would return to the Raiders if Callahan were the coach. Woodson responded by saying, "I'm not going to get into that."

If franchise history means anything, Callahan's future will not include the Raiders. The last time Oakland had a 4-12 season was 1997. And yes, incidentally, the Raiders dismissed then head coach Joe Bugel.

Oakland later hired Gruden, whom Callahan was a co-worker with the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons before following Gruden to Oakland.

One place Callahan is rumored to go to if, err – when, he and the Raiders part ways is Tampa Bay – with Gruden.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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