The Oakland Raiders made their announcement official Wednesday regarding the status of Bill Callahan as head coach.
In a statement from the team, the Raiders announced that they would not extend Callahan's contract, which expired after the 2003 season followed by a series of one-year options. The Raiders did not issue any statements from Callahan, who reportedly cleared out his office Friday in anticipation of his dismal.
The Raiders informed Callahan of their decision early Tuesday. However, Callahan requested, for personal and family reasons, that the club hold any announcement until Wednesday. Callahan's son, Brian, is a backup quarterback for UCLA, who was playing in the Silicon Valley Bowl in nearby San Jose Tuesday night.
Callahan is dismissed after the Raiders had a precipitous one-year fall from grace. Callahan became the first rookie head coach since San Francisco's George Seifert to lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance. Oakland, however, fell to a dismal 4-12 this season in posting the worst one-year turnaround for a franchise after a Super Bowl appearance.
Callahan posted a 17-18 record, including the postseason, in two years as the head coach. Callahan served as offensive coordinator on the Raiders staff from 1998-2001 while doubling as the tight ends coach in 1998 before coaching the offensive line in 1999.
"The Raiders express gratitude to Bill Callahan for his contributions to the excellence of the organization throughout his four seasons as an assistant for the Raiders and his two seasons as Head Coach of the Silver and Black," The team said in its released statement.
Oakland's firing of Callahan is certainly not unexpected. There had been rampant speculation of such a move for several weeks. Many Oakland players welcome the change. Callahan might have sealed his fate after a 22-8 home loss against the Denver Broncos after referring to his team as "the dumbest team in America." He also suspended cornerback Charles Woodson and running back Charlie Garner for the season finale, a 21-14 loss to San Diego, for missing curfew.
Callahan faced difficult circumstances, many of which players said were his own making, this season. Quarterback Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP, and his backup, Marques Tuiasosopo were among 12 players to finish the season on injured reserve.
Woodson, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, has been one Callahan's harshest critics. He publicly called out the coach on two occasions in referring to him as stubborn and losing control of his team. Several other Raiders, notably wide receiver Tim Brown and quarterback Rich Gannon, however, have since joined Woodson in their criticism of Callahan.
In addition to the injuries, the Raiders had players face suspensions from the NFL after reportedly testing positive for the newly discovered steroid THG.
A few Raiders expressed support for Callahan saying he deserved another chance to win with his own ballclub and not one he inherited from former coach Jon Gruden, who was in effect traded to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season.
The Raiders are now seeking their sixth head coach in 12 seasons. When they fill that vacancy is anyone's guess. As for Callahan's coaching future, it's strongly unlikely he will land any of the other six head coaching vacancies but he will assuredly surface somewhere as a position coach and/coordinator. Expect rumors to pick up that Callahan will join Gruden's staff in Tampa Bay.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com