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  • Rattlers fire coach

    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."

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    White pulls out of running for Rampage job
    by DJRamFan
    Wednesday, August 11, 2004
    By Gary Bond
    The Grand Rapids Press
    Danny White, whose interest in the Grand Rapids Rampage head coaching vacancy made him the No. 1 candidate, said no Tuesday.

    White threw his name into the hat after he was fired three weeks ago by the Arizona Rattlers. He had a deadline of Tuesday to inform the Rampage of his intentions.

    White told Rampage general manager Scott Gorsline thanks, but no thanks. The reason was mostly geographical.

    "It was a tough decision turning down the coaching opportunity in Grand Rapids because I was impressed with everything about the city and organization," White said.

    "I was presented with an unique coaching opportunity, one I can't elaborate on right now and I expect this opportunity will be announced no later than the Arena Football League's board of directors meeting next week in Las Vegas.

    "When everything happened with Arizona, Grand Rapids was the first team to call and make me an offer. They have been first class with everything they did and someone is going to get a great organization to work and coach for."

    White, who was born and raised in Phoenix, said he also has declined coaching positions in Las Vegas and New York.

    "White was very impressed with everything about the Grand Rapids organization and was happy with a lot of the parameters, including his contract we had talked about," Gorsline said. "In the end, though, he said he was pursuing another opportunity that was a great opportunity for him to be closer to home.

    "We knew geography would be a big issue with White especially with his family based in the southwest part of the country.

    "After speaking with Rampage owner Dan DeVos and minority owner David Green, I anticipate moving quickly in filling the job here. I don't know if we will name a coach this week, but I expect it will happen soon."

    Sources told The Press the AFL plans to announce next week that St. Lake City, Utah, will have an arena football franchise for the 2005 season and White will be the team's head coach.

    Without White, and Steve Thonn, who accepted the offensive coordinator's position with the Georgia Force, the Rampage are left with four candidates: Sparky McEwen, offensive coordinator for the arenafootball2 Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz; Kevin Porter, defensive coordinator with the New Orleans VooDoo; Rick Frazier, who finished the season as the Rampage interim head coach after Bob Cortese was fired after a team started 1-10, and Tom Luginbill, the head coach of the Detroit Fury.

    McEwen, who also was the Rampage's offensive coordinator from 2001-2003, and Porter, are candidates for the Las Vegas position. They plan to begin it face-to-face interviews no later than next week.

    © 2004 Grand...
    -08-11-2004, 11:03 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Todd Shell to be named Rattlers coach
    by DJRamFan
    Richard Obert
    The Arizona Republic
    Aug. 3, 2004 04:42 PM

    Todd Shell on Thursday will officially be announced as Danny White's replacement as head coach of the Rattlers.

    Shell, the team's top choice since White was fired two weeks ago, is succeeding the man who gave him his first break in Arena football. White hired Shell in 1993 to be his defensive coordinator. The next season, the Rattlers won the ArenaBowl.

    Shell, who will be introduced during an 11:30 a.m. news conference at America West Arena, took his first head coaching job in 1995 when the San Jose SaberCats made him the franchise's first coach. In his first season, the SaberCats became the first expansion team in Arena football history to win a division title, taking the Western crown.

    He was 29-25, taking San Jose to the playoffs three times in his four seasons there. He was 15-9 as the New York Dragons coach the past 1˝ seasons.

    Shell, a former Mesa Mountain View High and Brigham Young linebacker, won Super Bowl rings as a player with the San Francisco ***** in 1984 and '88. He retired after five season due to injuries.

    Shell could possibly bring Lary Kuharich with him to be offensive coordinator of the Rattlers. White always handled those duties in his 13 seasons with the Rattlers. Kuharich was running-backs coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1998 and '99 when Ricky Williams played there. Kuharich is friends with Rattlers Vice President Gene Nudo,. who advised Shell to hire Kuharich two seasons ago when Shell was given the New York job at midseason.
    -08-04-2004, 01:37 PM
  • DJRamFan
    White out: Gladiators look elsewhere for coach
    by DJRamFan

    Danny White
    Gladiators could not meet coaching candidate's salary demands

    Las Vegas was No. 1 on Danny White's list of potential coaching destinations, but the Gladiators did not make hiring him a priority and a deal almost certainly will not be reached.

    "Right now they have no shot," White said Monday. "I haven't heard from them. It does (surprise me) a little bit because they were the front-runner going in because of their closeness to Phoenix."

    White built a successful resumé with the Arizona Rattlers, winning two Arena Football League championships and making five ArenaBowls in 13 years.

    Gladiators general manager Dan Dolby said two factors have worked against a more aggressive pursuit of White -- team owner Jim Ferraro's unavailability because of business overseas and White's asking price.

    Dolby would not comment on White's salary parameters, but a source said he was seeking more than $200,000. Frank Haege, fired as Gladiators head coach last month, made a base salary of $110,000.

    "From a compensation standpoint, we were too far apart," Dolby said. "It was a lot of money for the coaching ranks of the AFL."

    The sides were so far apart, Dolby said, that a deal would have been extremely difficult even if Ferraro had been in the country. Ferraro returns to the United States on Thursday.

    White has been more hotly pursued by other AFL teams, such as Grand Rapids and New York. He said he met with officials from both clubs recently, but that he was considering other teams, which he declined to name.

    Grand Rapids had wanted an answer from White by today, but he said he would make a decision on his job search by next week's AFL board of directors meeting in Las Vegas.

    "I've been actively involved with several teams ... but Las Vegas isn't one of them," White said.

    With White no longer a serious candidate, assuming he ever was, that leaves seven others on the list the Gladiators are considering.

    Those candidates are: current Gladiators assistants Stan Davis and Ron James; Oklahoma City (af2) offensive coordinator Sparky McEwen; New Orleans VooDoo defensive coordinator Kevin Porter; Oklahoma City head coach Gary Reasons; Carolina Cobras interim coach Ron Selesky; and Indiana coach Mike Wilpolt.

    The list will be trimmed by next week, and in-person interviews will begin.
    -08-10-2004, 08:29 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Rattlers' fate rests in shift of owner
    by DJRamFan
    Richard Obert
    The Arizona Republic
    Jun. 29, 2004 12:00 AM

    After coming up 4 yards short of a championship Sunday, there are four important questions the Rattlers need to address this summer.

    • Will coach Danny White be back?

    • Will somebody be able to buy the Rattlers to partner with new Suns ownership?

    • Will there be a team beyond the 2005 season?

    • Will the team's nucleus return for one more shot at the title?

    First, the Suns ownership transaction between Jerry Colangelo and Robert Sarver needs to be completed Wednesday.

    Then, issues can be evaluated.

    Rattlers President Jim Pitman, who worked closely on the financial transaction in the past three months, said that the Rattlers will be a high priority, along with Suns free agency this summer.

    Pitman gave White credit for one of his best coaching jobs, turning a 3-5 team to 13-5, before losing to San Jose 69-62 in ArenaBowl XVIII.

    "I think our season was very successful," Pitman said. "I think the coaching staff and coach White in particular did a great job."

    Pitman, who has worked under Colangelo's ownership, said he doesn't know what his position with the Rattlers will be next season.

    He said he hopes the team doesn't fold after next season. The team is committed to the league for the 2005 season. Sarver said last week he wasn't thinking beyond 2005 because he was working on closing the ownership deal.

    Sunday's ArenaBowl crowd of 17,391, the largest ever to see a Rattlers game at America West Arena, was proof that the Rattlers have a strong fan base.

    "The city still loves the Rattlers," Pitman said. "We still want to bring them a championship."

    Attorney Kim Coben is trying to buy the team, which is worth about $17 million after Colangelo bought it in 1991 for $250,000. That's not a done deal, though, White said. Pitman said he could not comment on Coben's attempt to purchase the team.

    Most important to White, 52, who has led the Rattlers to five ArenaBowls and 12 consecutive playoff appearances, is being able to get along with the owner.

    "It's more I just need to know who I'm working for before I say, 'Yeah, I'm going to coach the team for five more years,' " said White, whose contract has expired. " . . . It would be hard for me to work for someone I don't respect. Until I know who that person is, it's so important to me. I've always worked for people I've had great respect for."

    With his children all grown, White said he would leave Arizona for an NFL opportunity. Right now, he says he's in a "holding pattern."

    "I'm going to be pursuing other opportunities," he said. "For the...
    -06-30-2004, 10:09 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Gladiators considering coaches
    by DJRamFan
    Eight candidates, including White, being looked at to replace Haege


    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."
    -08-04-2004, 01:42 PM