The search for a new Raider coach took a strange turn Thursday when it was learned that one candidate withdrew after talking with a Raider assistant coach who is still in the running.
Washington Redskins assistant Joe Bugel said he spent five hours in San Antonio, last Sunday discussing offensive philosophy with Tom Walsh, who coaches the Raider receivers.
Bugel, the Redskins' assistant head coach for offense, was there to speak at a football clinic and had planned to continue to Los Angeles that night to meet with Raider owner Al Davis. But when he got to the airport, he said Thursday, he changed his mind and decided he needed more time "to think about it" and got on a plane for home, instead.
Two days later he decided to withdraw from consideration for the job.
Bugel broke his weeklong silence Thursday, he told Marty Hurney of the Washington Times, because he "wanted to clear the air."
While he was not offered the job, Bugel said: "I had some convictions about philosophy on offense and the things I wanted to do. I think there was a block."
Earlier, another Redskin assistant, Dan Henning, was reported to have dropped out because he wouldn't have had enough authority in the offense and other coaching matters.
The next day, an Associated Press story said Davis had dropped Henning from consideration.
Bugel seemed to support part of the original version of the Henning episode: that Henning backed out because Davis didn't want to change his offensive system.
"I respect him for that," Bugel said. "He implemented it (when Davis was coach in 1963-65) and it's worked very well for him."
Bugel, 48, also wanted authority similar to that enjoyed by his current boss, Joe Gibbs.
"I figured I didn't want to be a head coach just to be a head coach," Bugel said. "I wanted to control the destiny part.
"A lot of people have said, 'You're stupid because you don't know how many--if any--chances you'll have.' But all you can do is go back and do your work and maybe another one will come along."
Bugel said he and Walsh talked about offensive philosophy and terminology. Whether Walsh was sent to San Antonio as Davis' emissary was not clear.
Among other prospects interviewed by Davis, Denver Broncos assistant Mike Shanahan was back at work in Denver Thursday evaluating last season's game films with the other coaches, and San Francisco 49ers assistant Dennis Green was at Notre Dame checking out Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown with other National Football League coaches and scouts.
Shanahan met with Davis in Los Angeles Wednesday and flew home that night. He wouldn't talk with reporters Thursday but said through a team spokesman: "I don't have anything to say other than I talked to Al Davis yesterday. I don't know anything else."
Said Bronco Coach Dan Reeves: "He said he had a good meeting with Al, but he had no idea when they might make a decision. (Davis) may set a new record for interviews."
However, the Raiders have the Forum Room at the Airport Hilton reserved through next Wednesday, except Sunday. That's the room where Tom Flores announced his retirement Jan. 20.
Davis' decision could be announced Monday, for two reasons.
First, he is scheduled to be out of town Tuesday through Thursday.
Second, under a league rule, March 1 is the NFL deadline for requesting permission to talk with assistant coaches from other teams about jobs as assistant coaches on one's own team.
That rule wouldn't apply directly to Shanahan or Green but would make it difficult for, say, Reeves or 49er Coach Bill Walsh to replace their assistants.
As a courtesy to their current teams, then, if Davis were to hire Shanahan or Green, he would do so before Tuesday.
Promoting Walsh would be simpler, for that and another reason: there would be no problem with the offensive system.
It's the old Sid Gillman offense that Davis learned as a Charger assistant and, much later, Walsh learned while coaching under Gillman in the United States International University's now-defunct football program in the mid-'70s.