Is It Jim Harbaugh or Bust for the Oakland Raiders in 2015?

Jon Gruden, ESPN color analyst and former head coach of the Oakland Raiders, won’t be returning to the Silver and Black anytime soon. If owner Mark Davis is really going to spend on his next coach, as Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Sunday, he’s already running out of top-dollar candidates.

Gruden’s reluctance to leave the cushy broadcast booth leaves embattled San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh as the Raiders’ only endgame. That’s because spending big money on a mid-level candidate or even a hotshot college coach wouldn’t be money well spent in Oakland.

The Raiders are still two games away from the offseason, but it’s already setting up as if it’ll be Harbaugh or bust in 2015. The Raiders need a head coach like Harbaugh who can attract free agents and win immediately so they can get a new stadium.

If Mark Davis can’t turn his team into a winner soon, he’s going to be stuck somewhere he doesn’t want to be instead of in new digs in Oakland or Los Angeles. He’ll be stuck at Coliseum in Oakland, seriously considering the Alamodome in San Antonio or sharing Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara with the 49ers.

What’s more is that Harbaugh is the only available head coach who has the leverage to get some general manager-like powers. His power was at the center of the contract negotiation between Harbaugh and the 49ers.

If the Raiders are serious about making changes in the front office that include general manager Reggie McKenzie, it’s imperative they find an equal or better replacement. Despite his team’s lackluster record, McKenzie has built a base of young talent in Oakland and cleaned up the salary cap. Since the Raiders aren’t typically a desirable job for top football executives, it makes it hard to move on from McKenzie and his handpicked front office.

Harbaugh may do more th...

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