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Whisenhunt, Petrino drop out of Raiders search

ALAMEDA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2006) -- Super Bowl winning offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino have pulled out of consideration for the Oakland Raiders coaching vacancy.

Whisenhunt came to the Bay Area to interview Feb. 8 with owner Al Davis and team officials, a day after celebrating the Steelers' Super Bowl title with a parade in Pittsburgh.

He told the Raiders the next day he had decided to stay in Pittsburgh for another season, making him one of the top coaching candidates for after next season. Oakland is the only team currently with a head-coach opening.

"After coming out here and taking a look, he decided to stay with the Steelers," Eric Metz, Whisenhunt's agent, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"We came out here, had an enjoyable visit, met with Mr. Davis, and Ken likes and respects him."

The Raiders also talked with Petrino, who had previously said he had no interest in the NFL. Louisville assistant sports information director Rocco Gasparro said Petrino will stay at the school.

Oakland has been without a coach since Norv Turner was fired Jan. 3, giving a new coach little time to put together a staff and set his offseason priorities before the scouting combine begins Feb. 22.

Davis has already interviewed Al Saunders, James Lofton and Rod Marinelli, and had talks with former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz, former Raiders coach Art Shell and Oakland quarterbacks coach John Shoop.

Saunders decided to take a job running the Washington Redskins' offense, Marinelli was hired as Detroit Lions coach, and Martz will be the Lions' offensive coordinator next season.

It is unclear what direction the Raiders will go in now. They could turn back to Shell, who had a 54-38 record with the Raiders and led the team to the AFC championship game following the 1990 season. Shell was fired after going 9-7 in 1994, a move Davis has said he regretted.

Shell, currently the senior vice president of football operations and development for the NFL, had a winning record in four of his five complete seasons. The Raiders have had only three winning seasons since his firing and are only 13-35 the past three seasons.

The Raiders could also try to interview Baltimore offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, who led the Giants to the Super Bowl following the 2000 season with Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins at the helm.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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