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ALAMEDA – Tony Sparano will interview for the opportunity to remove his interim tag and become full-time Raiders head coach.
It wasn’t scheduled for Monday afternoon, before a camera bank and a dozen reporters.
Owner Mark Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie weren’t there, but Sparano came ready to make his pitch.
The man came into his season-ending press conference armed with facts and figures designed to combat sentiment that a 3-9 record wasn’t worthy of a prolonged engagement.
It was an impassioned plea aimed at higher-ups on the other side of the screen that he deserves a job many crave and one will get.
“All I want to do right now is be the head coach of the Raiders,” Sparano said. “So how badly? Very, very badly. This is my team. I left my team today and I’m looking forward to starting over again with them. Those decisions will be made down the road. As far as anything else with me goes, I only have one concern right now. It’s being the head coach of the Oakland Raiders.”
Sparano said that he’s grown close to Davis in recent months and shares a McKenzie’s vision for how to build and run a football team.
He wants an offseason to construct a team in his image, avoiding shortcuts mandatory when taking over during a bye week. He credits the players for buying in, working hard and eventually winning some games.
“They all had to be willing to do that,” Sparano said. “We made some changes. We did some things in that way and I think that there’s a clear spark between me and the players and my message to the players here. I think that anybody that doesn’t see that isn’t really looking hard enough.”
On Sunday night, Sparano vaguely referenced a body of work for why he should stay. On Monday, he took a far closer look. He showed improvement under his watch, saying the Raiders were better in 28 statistical categories after he took over during a Week 5 bye.
He promoted continuity by stating how many head coaches, assistants have come through Oakland since 2002, and the record from that dark period without a playoff berth.
He examined a rough season through rose-colored lenses, stating how many snaps were taken by players with two years experience or less. It’s 10,196, as crazy as that sounds.
Those are valid points that suggest the Raiders improved under Sparano. He wouldn’t address what else this team needs, or if he’s thought about changes in staff if he’s retained. He stayed on a clear message: this organization is in better shape after I took charge.
“I’m confident and I know the direction this is headed,” he said. “I’ve done this before, not quite like this, but there has been a lot of work done here, right now, and by God I want that work to be for me, for this organization.”