Raiders Begin the Search for a New Head Coach

Times Staff Writer

The search for Tom Flores' replacement is beginning slowly. A Raider official said Friday that Al Davis is expected to interview Dennis Green, San Francisco 49ers receivers coach, and George Seifert, 49er defensive coordinator.

Davis has reportedly called Green a possibility. Green, a black, has been head coach at Northwestern and is said to come highly recommended as an offensive mind by his boss, Bill Walsh, a man Davis listens to.

Green, who had been keeping Bay Area reporters informed of his talks about the Green Bay Packers' head coaching job, suddenly stopped talking this week and began issuing "no comments" to questions about Raider contacts.

At first glance, an offensive coach would seem to have an edge. Flores acted as Raider offensive coordinator. Three of the four fired Raider assistants worked on that side of the ball, suggesting that Davis is clearing room for a new coach/offensive coordinator to name his own staff.

However, Davis has also indicated that speculation that he will hire the National Football League's first modern-era black coach is overblown. Those close to Davis are predicting that Davis won't hire a black.

Few details are known about the search. Typical Raider secrecy prevails to an even greater degree.

But here's a look at some of the presumed candidates:

MIKE WHITE--The recently deposed Illinois coach, another bright offensive mind and protege of Bill Walsh, is being mentioned more and more in the papers but doesn't seem to be in the running. Davis has reportedly said that it won't be White.

CHARLIE SUMNER--The Raider defensive coordinator has applied for the top spot. His stature is such that he must be taken seriously. He had pro head coaching experience with the United States Football League Oakland Invaders, and is an old-time, give-'em-hell Raider type, well regarded by his defensive players.

However, Sumner seems to have something working against him in Davis' mind, too. There are theories that Davis didn't like Sumner leaving the organization, and that Sumner is too independent for Davis.

TOM WALSH--A surprise. The Raider receiver coach is suddenly being talked of as a top prospect by Raider insiders. Said a source: "He may even be the front-runner."

ART SHELL--In the running.

SAM GRUNIESEN--The Raiders' young linebacker coach has applied, but he looks like a longshot.

Davis is expected to begin making contacts in a bigger way next week at the scouting combine's workout of college seniors in Indianapolis.

Said an NFL scout: "He'll do what he always does. He'll get eight or nine people in and bleed them dry. He'll ask them what they think they can do for the Raiders."

Said a Raider source: "I don't think Al knows at this point. Maybe he does and he just isn't saying, but I don't think so. It'll be awhile. He doesn't make quick decisions."

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