IF YOU’RE waiting for some resolution to the Al Davis-Lane Kiffin tiff, you’ll have to wait until at least next week. The Oakland Raiders and other teams are taking a timeout to observe the annual National Football League practice of not upstaging the Super Bowl the week before it’s played.

Frankly, we’re not sure how much substance there is to reports that owner Al Davis gave his first-year coach a letter of resignation to sign and Kiffin refused to do so. We also don’t know whether the loss of mutual admiration dates back to the trade of receiver Randy Moss by Kiffin on draft day 2007 or came to a head because Kiffin wanted to replace defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, which Davis vetoed.

But we don’t doubt there’s something to reports that there are serious differences between the two. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire and the Raiders have a history of short tenures and quick exits for head coaches. To wit: Five in seven seasons and three in the past three years.

Perhaps because he is nearly 80 years old, Davis is looking for lightning in a bottle — a head coach who will instantly adopt his vision and in doing so return his beloved Silver & Black to its former years of glory.

Changing head coaches every season, however, is neither the way to make it happen nor a prescription for success. Building or rebuilding a winning team or organization takes time, hard work, continuity, no small amount of luck — and Al Davis should remember that. Playing musical coaches is the wrong formula.

Except for the short Jon Gruden era, the Raiders have been a team seemingly lost in the wilderness ever since returning to Oakland from Los Angeles. Such aimless wandering must come to an end. The team needs to put down some roots, decide what kind of team it wants to be and doggedly pursue that end without a steady diet of second-guessing from upstairs.

The Raiders are but a shadow of their former selves. They no longer live up to Davis’ standard of “commitment to excellence” or rank among the most feared teams in the NFL. Now they’re the league’s most penalized franchise and one of its biggest losers.

It’s no longer the team of John Madden, Kenny Stabler, Fred Biletnikoff or Big Ben Davidson. Instead, it’s a team of Jerry Porter, Robert Gallery and Lamont Jordan. The differences are huge.

One thing for sure, the Raiders need leadership on and off the field, a change of direction and style — and a healthy period of time in which to let whatever hue and shape they choose to sink in and take root.

Many fans and football aficionados outside the Raiders’ Alameda headquarters regard Davis as part of, if not the problem, not the solution.

But convincing someone to step down who has been the personification of an organization is never easy. And, there’s no doubt that for the past four decades Davis has been the team’s puppeteer and symbol.

The Raiders’ standing has deteriorated so much that getting a proven head football coach to take the helm of the team’s on-field efforts — with Al hovering overhead — gets tougher with every firing.

Davis’ dispute with Kiffin could be a minor flap that is smoothed over, could lead to another coaching change or perhaps be a tipping point that pushes the team in a whole new direction. The last, however, is least likely. History indicates that Davis won’t step aside and let someone else run the team. He is apt to continue putting his fingerprints on everything it does.

There comes a time in many personal and corporate histories when change is not only needed, but crucial. Such is the case with the Raiders, but it seems unlikely to happen as long as Al Davis is alive.