Eight candidates, including White, being looked at to replace Haege

By MARK ANDERSON
REVIEW-JOURNAL






In addition to Danny White, the Gladiators' coaching search includes two current Arena Football League head coaches whose contracts for next season are in doubt, two team sources said Tuesday.

The Gladiators are considering Carolina Cobras interim coach Ron Selesky and Indiana Firebirds coach Mike Wilpolt to replace Frank Haege, who was fired last week. The Cobras have yet to remove Selesky's interim tag, and Wilpolt has not been signed for next season.

They are among eight candidates, according to the sources, who provided the information on condition of anonymity. The others are: Gladiators assistants Stan Davis and Ron James; Sparky McEwen, offensive coordinator for Oklahoma City of af2; Kevin Porter, New Orleans VooDoo defensive coordinator; and Gary Reasons, Oklahoma City head coach.

Gladiators spokesman Adam Grant declined comment about specific candidates, but said, "We obviously have narrowed the list down to individuals we feel give us a chance to compete for the ArenaBowl in 2005."

Probably the coach most in demand is White, fired last month by the Arizona Rattlers after two AFL championships and five ArenaBowl appearances in 13 seasons. The Grand Rapids Rampage even altered its coaching search for White, keeping open the job after interviewing five candidates.

Grant said coaches' talks with other teams will not affect the Gladiators' process.

"The message we've given out to everyone is we don't want to hold them up from making any decision they feel is best for them and their family," Grant said. "With our owner (Jim Ferraro) out of (the country), we are physically unable to make any decisions this week."

Ferraro is expected back Aug. 12 and will be in Las Vegas for the AFL's board of directors meeting Aug. 17. Grant said the Gladiators would like to decide on the finalists Aug. 16 or 17 and conduct in-person interviews that week.

McEwen, also a candidate for the Grand Rapids job, said Tuesday he is particularly interested in the Gladiators position.

Before moving to the af2 this season, McEwen was the Rampage's offensive coordinator for three years, coaching current Gladiators quarterback Clint Dolezel.

"That roster is ready to win right now," McEwen said. "When I say win, I mean compete for the ArenaBowl title. That's saying a lot because of that division with Arizona, San Jose and Los Angeles."