Kiffin, Ryan marriage continues

To hear Rob Ryan and Lane Kiffin talk the other day, it was as if they were the two best friends in the world, which flies in the face of every rumor that's been floating around the Raiders ever since the regular season ended.

Whether there ever was a standoff between the two, the bottom line for now is that neither man is going anywhere. So now the question is, can the two come together and get Oakland back into the playoffs?

Both are currently in Mobile, Ala. working together as part of the North coaching staff at the Senior Bowl. Ryan told a reporter from Chicago that "things are cool" between he and Kiffin and that "I'll be back, absolutely. If they want to win a championship, they've got to keep us both together."

Which makes sense. Despite reports that first Ryan and then Kiffin were headed out the Raiders' front door, the last thing Al Davis needs is another coaching makeover. Both Kiffin and Ryan developed strong rapport with their players, particularly Ryan. And while Oakland's defense took a definitive step backward in 2007, it's clear that Davis is very fond of his defensive coordinator. He also had to be pleased with the progress the Raiders made under Kiffin, even if it was marginal in the standings.

Now it will be up to both men to prove their boss correct. Davis may have been mulling the idea of replacing one or both but no one will ever know for sure, but the point is that he didn't pull the trigger on either. He might not have the same patience next year unless there is significant improvement in the win-loss column.

But that's a debate for another day. Or at least until the rumor mill starts up again.

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