Richard Obert
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 21, 2004 12:00 AM


Rattlers coach Danny White, the state's longest-tenured and most successful pro coach, was fired Wednesday.

Neither team officials nor White would comment.

Defensive coordinator Doug Plank and team captain Hunkie Cooper confirmed that the former Mesa Westwood High, Arizona State and Dallas Cowboys quarterback was let go.

New York head coach Todd Shell is considered the front-runner to replace White, the Rattlers' only head coach since they started playing in 1992.

Shell, who could not be reached, was White's defensive coordinator in 1994, when the Rattlers won the ArenaBowl in only their third season.

White may have done his best coaching, leading the team to 10 straight wins, a Western Division title and a third straight ArenaBowl appearance after a franchise-worst 3-5 start. The Rattlers lost 69-62 to San Jose, where Shell was head coach after leaving the Rattlers.

White's contract would have expired in October. He was 123-56 in 13 seasons (the second-most victories in the Arena Football League's 18-year history).

"The coach had a lot of success over the years," said Plank, who has been offered a similar position with the Los Angeles Avengers and will interview for the head coaching position with the Georgia Force. "I don't know what the criteria was for making the decision."

White, 52, may have priced out the Rattlers, who have lost money every year. They are under new owner Robert Sarver, who is seeking a partner. Without one there is no certainty the team will be around beyond 2005.

Sarver and Rattlers President Jim Pitman are in Salt Lake City, with the Suns and could not be reached. Vice President Gene Nudo did not return a call.

"A couple of players won't be far behind," said Cooper, a receiver/linebacker who has played under White, along with quarterback Sherdrick Bonner, since 1993.

"Sometimes, you questioned what his motive was," Cooper said, "but he was a great leader for our franchise, and a role model for the league. I wish him the best."