Lane Kiffin has been out of the NFL for 12 years and is now the head coach at Ole Miss, but he’s still not completely over the one who got away during his first year as head coach of the Raiders.
Kiffin told Dan LeBatard today that in the 2007 NFL draft, Kiffin was sure selecting JaMarcus Russell first overall was going to be a mistake, but the late Raiders owner Al Davis was insistent on it, having watched Russell play well in the Sugar Bowl.
“This is nothing against JaMarcus,” Kiffin said. “It was midnight the night before the draft. I said, ‘We’re going to pay this guy $63 million and he’s not ready for it.’ I said I wouldn’t be ready for it at 21. He’s not ready for that and hasn’t played very much. And Mr. Davis is obsessed with the Sugar Bowl game when he beat Notre Dame. He watched that game on TV so he was just obsessed with that.”
Kiffin said he wanted Calvin Johnson, who went to the Lions with the No. 2 overall pick.
“Calvin Johnson was there. I said, Calvin Johnson is the best receiver I’ve ever seen, ever, work out in my life. This guy is going to be one of the best ever. But he was just set in his mind, and obviously it was his franchise, so that’s the direction we went,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin and Davis butted heads about Russell and much else, and Kiffin was fired just four games into his second season with the Raiders.