Bugel Seen as New Front-Runner for Raiders

Times Staff Writer

Because Joe Bugel may be more willing to work on Al Davis’ terms, he has replaced another Washington Redskin assistant as the apparent front-runner to become the next coach of the Raiders.

With Dan Henning stepping aside last weekend, citing disagreement with the Raider boss in “critical areas,” Davis has focused on Bugel, the Super Bowl champions’ assistant head coach/offense.

Bugel met with Davis in Los Angeles Sunday, the day after Davis’ final meeting with Henning.

Denver Bronco offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan, 35, has been the only other visible candidate, but Shanahan said Monday that he hasn’t talked to the Raiders since last Thursday.


Bugel would not discuss the situation with reporters when he returned to the Redskin offices at Herndon, Va., Monday morning.

However, other sources believed he would not have Henning’s reservations about Davis’ involvement in coaching matters.

“Bugel would take it under any circumstances,” one source said.

Bugel, who will be 48 on March 10, has been an assistant coach for 24 years but never a head coach. He has been an offensive line coach with the Detroit Lions, Houston Oilers and Redskins, whom he joined in 1981.

Davis’ talks with Henning, a former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, stopped short of an offer when it became clear they couldn’t agree on three issues:

--Henning wanted to set up his own offensive system, with its own nomenclature, instead of converting to the Raider system originally established by Davis when he was coach in 1963-65.

--Henning wanted full authority over roster selection.

--Davis insisted on retaining seven assistant coaches, while Henning wanted a free hand in hiring his own staff.


Bugel was seen as more willing to meet Davis’ conditions.

The week before the Super Bowl and two weeks after Coach Tom Flores suddenly retired, it was learned that the Raiders had let go three of their offensive assistant coaches--Sam Boghosian, Larry Kennan and Bob Mischak--along with special teams coach Ray Willsey and conditioning coach Jim Bush.

Apparently, Davis intends to keep seven other assistants--Charlie Sumner and Sam Gruniesen, linebackers; Willie Brown, defensive backfield; Earl Leggett, defensive line; Joe Scanella, offensive backfield; Art Shell, offensive line, and Tom Walsh, receivers.

Sumner, essentially the defensive coordinator without the title, and Walsh also have been regarded as candidates to succeed Flores.


Staff writer Mark Heisler also contributed to this story.