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Raiders like look of Kiffin

New coach Lane Kiffin, 31, is ready to lead the Raiders' youth movement. New coach Lane Kiffin, 31, is ready to lead the Raiders' youth movement. (JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES)

After four miserable seasons, Al Davis knew the Oakland Raiders needed a fresh start. He couldn't have found a new coach much more fresh than Lane Kiffin.

The Raiders officially hired the 31-year-old Kiffin yesterday, putting the former Southern California offensive coordinator in charge of restoring glory to a three-time Super Bowl champion that fell to the NFL's worst record last year.

Kiffin, who took the job Monday, became the youngest head coach in club history and the NFL's youngest in several decades. If the job of rebuilding a 2-14 club intimidates him, Kiffin didn't show it while sitting next to Davis in a sharp black suit.

"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity and where I see this place going," Kiffin said. "It's a historic franchise that has had greatness and has fallen on tough times, but we will bring it back to where it was before."

Kiffin, the son of Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, has just one season of NFL experience -- as Jacksonville's defensive quality control coach in 2000. But the 77-year-old Davis wasn't afraid to hire a coach young enough to be his grandson.

The Raiders also will retain defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who built an above-average defense last season despite the offense's woes. Kiffin, who left for the Senior Bowl after yesterday's news conference, plans to hire an offensive coordinator soon.

As Davis reflected on what he called the "year of infamy," he realized the Raiders needed a profound change.

"As time went on, I realized that we had to go in a different direction," Davis said. "We have to move the clock back. We have to get youth in the organization, and we have to go ahead and attack, and with someone who really means that he will attack."

Cardinals add Grimm
Russ Grimm was hired as the Arizona Cardinals' assistant head coach and offensive line coach, two weeks after he interviewed for the head coaching position.

Grimm's hiring comes two days after erroneous reports that the Pittsburgh Steelers had chosen him to replace retired coach Bill Cowher. Grimm wanted the Steelers job, but said he was happy to reunite with Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, a former Steelers staffmate.

"It's about 23 degrees and snowing, so I'm looking forward to the weather," Grimm said from Pittsburgh.

Grimm, 47, who worked as an assistant with the Steelers the last six seasons, interviewed for the Cardinals' and Steelers' top jobs. On Sunday, a published report said the club would promote Grimm. But the Steelers instead hired Minnesota defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

Johnson gets OK
Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson received court approval to play in the Super Bowl. Cook County (Ill.) Judge John Moran granted a defense request to allow Johnson to leave the state as he awaits trial on gun charges . . . The Titans said they will not give Dallas permission to speak with coach Jeff Fisher. Another possible candidate for the Cowboys' vacancy, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, took himself out of the running . . . Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers won't play in the Pro Bowl because of a foot injury.

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