McDaniels Could Get The Call

The Oakland Raiders organization, which has had its share of turnover at in the top coaching spot, is again looking for a new leader after firing Art Shell. Shell's departure comes following a disastrous 2-14 season marred by player suspensions, media reports of player dissatisfaction, and numerous other distractions. One of the candidates on their list is Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Shell was in his second stint at the helm for Oakland after guiding the team to a 56-41 record from 1989-1994. Although the Raiders denounced early reports that Shell would be fired after just one season, ultimately the decision was made to move on.

The organization faces credibility questions after litany of head coaches with short tenure. Between Shell's first and second stint in Oakland, they've had Mike White (1995-96), Joe Bugel (1997), Gruden (1998-2001), Bill Callaghan (2002-03) and Norv Turner (2004-05).

Instead of looking for another experienced head coach, Oakland has filled its list with top young coaching prospects in the vein of the then 30-something Jon Gruden who had the most successful run leading the silver and black since John Madden went 112-39-7 in the seventies.

Top candidates to replace Shell included USC assistant coach Steve Sarkisian, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, San Diego Chargers assistant James Lofton, and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels among others.

Two of the candidates from this year's search removed their names from consideration after speaking with the team. James Lofton, reportedly had the inside track on the job but dropped out of contention after sitting down to negotiate the final details of a deal with Oakland. The Raiders told Lofton that he would not be offered the job according to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Sarkisian replaced Lofton as the next hot prospect, but withdrew his name from consideration after concluding a two-day interview with Oakland's front office. He cited lack of control as one of the reasons for not accepting the opportunity. "They were a bit shocked because we had come so far," Sarkisian told Sirius NFL Radio after the news broke.

Coaching candidates turning down the Raiders opening is nothing new. Saints head coach Sean Peyton declined an offer in 2004; Louisville's Bobby Petrino took a job with the Falcons after declining Raider overtures in 2005; and San Diego's Cam Cameron, who has a distinct dislike for the AFC West rival Raiders preferred to put his hat in the ring with Miami rather than pursue the job just up the coast.

Lack of control is the key issue for anyone who is considering the job in Oakland. Al Davis reportedly prefers to hire a young coach because the organization has already retained or extended contracts of a number of the current assistants. Davis is also well known for his desire to main control over the personnel decisions. Any new coach who does take the job will have his hands tied unable to hire his own staff, and in no position to dictate personnel decisions to improve the roster. Only those with limited experience would consider an offer such as this, which is why Patriots assistant Josh McDaniel is expected to be the leading candidate should New England get knocked out of the playoffs this weekend.

McDaniels, 30, joined the New England staff in 2001 after working under Nick Saban at Michigan State. He was promoted to the position of offensive coordinator after serving a year as the team's quarterbacks coach. McDaniels replaced former offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis who left to take the head-coaching job at Notre Dame.

Should the Patriots lose McDaniels it will be the fourth member of their coaching staff to depart in the past three seasons. Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel left for the head coaching job in Cleveland in 2005 the same season as Weis took the Notre Dame job. Last year defensive coordinator Eric Mangini left to take the head coaching job with the New York Jets.

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