1:32pm: The Raiders have made the decision official, announcing in a press release that Sparano is the team’s new interim head coach
12:58pm: After firing head coach Dennis Allen last night, the Raiders have decided on his interim replacement, according to Jim Trotter of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that the club will announce Tony Sparano as the new head coach later this afternoon. Sparano had previously been acting as Oakland’s assistant head coach and offensive line coach.
For Sparano, who will turn 53 next week, this will be his second chance at an NFL head coaching job. The new Raiders interim coach previously led the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 2008, his first year with the club. However, consecutive losing seasons followed, culminating with his firing in 2011 when Miami got off to a 4-9 start. Overall, Sparano led the Dolphins to a 29-32 record, with no postseason victories.
Scott Bair and Fallon Smith of CSNBayArea.com had previously reported (via Twitter) that the Raiders were deciding between Sparano and senior offensive assistant Al Saunders. Owner Mark Davis was said to prefer Saunders, but appears to have left the decision up to general manager Reggie McKenzie. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson was viewed as the other internal candidate, and Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle says Olson made a push for the job (Twitter link).
While Sparano takes over for now, the team will likely reevaluate the position after the season. Unless Sparano leads a massive turnaround during the last 12 games, I’d expect the Raiders to consider higher-profile candidates, such as former head coach Jon Gruden. Landing Gruden may be a long shot, but Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter link) hears that the current ESPN analyst is a big fan of rookie signal-caller Derek Carr.