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Mike White Is Waiting in Line for Davis to Open Raider Job : Pro football: Owner wants to name assistant as new coach but doesn’t want to hurt Art Shell, a loyal employee.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Raider owner Al Davis has decided to name Mike White coach of the Raiders, according to sources, but only if Davis can bring himself to relieve Art Shell of his duties.

And so far, having agonized for the 30 days since the regular season ended, Davis has not yet been able to do so.

Davis has encouraged White, sent him to Phoenix to solidify his relationship with newly hired assistant Joe Bugel, even told White to make up a list of potential assistants. But Davis has not, according to another source, told White he will be head coach. Nor has Davis told Shell he is out.

And, because this is such a painful decision for Davis, it still might not happen.

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Should Shell be relieved of his duties, all indications are he will be given another job in the organization.

Davis had hoped to keep Shell in the head-coaching spot by surrounding him with two solid assistants. He hired Bugel to be an offensive assistant and tried to hire Dallas Cowboy defensive coordinator Butch Davis to be Raider defensive coordinator, offering him $800,000 a year to assume that post along with the job of director of football operations.

That post was held by Steve Ortmayer until he left to join the Rams earlier this month.

When Butch Davis turned Al Davis down, opting instead for the head coaching job with the University of Miami, Al Davis made a run at Seattle defensive assistant Rusty Tillman.

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When he couldn’t get Tillman, Davis turned to White.

The rumor first swept through Raider headquarters in El Segundo last Thursday that Shell was out and White was in. The other assistants were scrambling to figure out where they fit in the new scheme. White vehemently denied the report last Thursday, saying he had received no such offer from Davis.

As of Monday night, White could still make that statement.

It may be the hardest move Davis has ever had to make. He is fiercely loyal to those he feels have been loyal to him. And Shell has been the consummate Raider, putting in 27 years in the organization as a Hall of Fame offensive lineman, an assistant coach and, for the last 5 1/2 years, as head coach.

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But when the 1994 Raiders, considered to have some of the best talent in the AFC, finished out of the playoffs at 9-7, Davis began to formulate a new course of action.

White, 58, has twice been a head coach, for six years at Cal and for eight years at Illinois.

He has been a Raider assistant for five years, moving from quarterback coach to offensive line coach last season.

One assistant is not waiting around to see how things turn out. Linebacker coach Jim Haslett has left the Raiders to take the same position with the New Orleans Saints.

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“It’s a good group,” Haslett said. “I hate to leave two good, young guys (Greg Biekert and Rob Fredrickson) and the rest of them, but it’s best I go someplace else.”

Haslett is the sixth assistant to leave the Raiders in the five weeks since the season ended, joining Ortmayer; defensive line coach Gunther Cunningham, who resigned to go to the Kansas City Chiefs; and three other defensive coaches--Ray Hamilton, Jack Stanton and Odis McKinney--all of whom were fired.


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