By Dennis O'Donnell

CBS 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on CBS 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.

OAKLAND (CBS 5) – Once upon a time Allison had a crush on Dennis in high school. She made the first move. Dennis rejected. Who needs a girlfriend when you’re drawing X’s and O’s on a napkin during recess?

Dennis Allen says he knew as early as high school that he was destined to become a football coach. In high school he dreamed of being a high school coach. When he played safety at Texas A&M he saw himself as college coach. Then came the NFL where he dreamed of becoming a head coach. And here he is.

From a fans perspective, and even perhaps from that of general manager Reggie McKenzie, what do we truly know about Allen? At 39, he’s the youngest head coach in the league, by six months over Mike Tomlin. He’s well-respected in coaching circles and his former players speak highly of him as a coach. But he has never been a head coach and, quite frankly, we won’t know until the end of next season whether this is a good hire or not. When I asked him he he’d ever thought about gaining head coaching experience at the college level, as Jim Harbaugh did at San Diego and Stanford, he referred to John Madden as a precedent for success without head coaching experience. But that was a different time, different era.

The team Allen inherits is far less talented than the one that fell into Harbaugh’s lap. Furthermore, Allen will have his hands tied on draft day as a result of trades. Check it out:

1st Round: No pick. Traded to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer
2nd Round: No pick. Traded to New England for 2011 3rd and 4th round picks
3rd Round: They used it in the 2011 supplemental draft for Terrelle Pryor
4th Round: Traded to Washington for Jason Campbell

It is not until the 5th round that the Raiders are “on the clock.” Although they will likely receive a compensation pick for the free-agent losses of Nnamdi, Robert Gallery and Zach Miller. But in a time when Oakland sorely needs defensive help, Allen won’t find much help in April. Perhaps that’s part of the reason he got a four-year contract which, by the way, was two years longer than Hue.

On the bright side, Carson Palmer will get an off-season and training camp with his teammates and Darren McFadden will finally be healthy. It makes sense that Al Saunders stays around to keep at least some semblance of continuity on the offensive side of the ball.

From a media standpoint, Allen seems very approachable, likeable. I heard at least two of my colleagues compare him to Joel Osteen, the televangelist who makes even Tim Tebow seem reserved. He easily passed the first test, but an introductory press conference hardly qualifies as the holy grail of coaching potential.

Oh, by the way. Allison? She finally got Dennis to go out. High school sweethearts became husband and wife and eventually mom and dad.

And they all lived happily ever after… to be continued.

(Copyright 2012 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)


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