A snot-nosed high school senior in Shane Lechler was hosted by rising college senior Dennis Allen on his recruiting trip to Texas A&M back in the Clinton Administration. The first Clinton Administration.
And after red-shirting his first year at College Station, Lechler saw Allen virtually every day of his college career with the Aggies, what with Allen spending those four years as a graduate assistant there.So forgive Lechler if he's not all that surprised with his one-time college "host" now assuming the reigns as his professional coach.
"I've known D.A. since '94 and he's always been a very professional guy," Lechler told CSNCalifornia.com in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he is preparing for his seventh Pro Bowl."Just check out his pedigree. He's a pay-attention-to-detail guy. I'm not saying we haven't had that here (in Oakland) before, but D.A.'s going to take it to another level."Since joining the Raiders as a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M in 2000, Lechler has played for (take a breath now) Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson, with Al Davis overseeing the entire operation. (OK, now you can exhale.)Now, Lechler has Allen and a new general manager in Reggie McKenzie to fill the void left by the death last Oct. 8 of Davis.At 39 -- he turns 40 on Sept. 22 -- Allen is the youngest coach in the NFL."Yeah, he's young but look at the experience he's already had in Atlanta and New Orleans and then he turned around the defense in Denver," Lechler said. "Any time I've crossed paths with him his attention to detail has impressed me."Even though he was just a G.A. (at Texas A&M), guys still listened to him and respected him. You could see it was in his future."Indeed, many observers saw Allen as a coach-in-waiting. McKenzie, though, believes his future is now. With the Raiders. And with a buttoned-down, no-nonsense style."That's going to be his approach," Lechler said. "He's not a huge rah-rah guy; he's a football coach. And that's what we need right now. We're headed in the right direction."