Joe Gibbs, offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, apparently has emerged as the leading candidate for the Redskin head coaching job. It was learned yesterday the George Allen will not be hired by the club.
Sources said owner Jack Kent Cooke and General Manager Bobby Beathard have eliminated Allen's name from consideration and now are focusing on Gibbs, Tom Bass of Tampa Bay and two college coaches, Howard Schnellenberger of the University of Miami and Darryl Rogers of Arizona State. Jack Pardee was fired Monday.
A league source familiar with the Redskin operation said Gibbs was the man Beathard apparently favored, and said he was certain the Redskins already have spoken to Gibbs, Bass, Schnellenberger and Rogers about the job.
Gibbs yesterday said he has known Beathard casually for 15 years but said there has been no contact between him and the Redskins. Beathard, on the West Coast to begin screening candidates, also denied he had talked to Gibbs.
Allen, who coached the Redskins from 1971 to 1977, has been mentioned as a replacement for Pardee since it was learned midway through the season that he had been contacted informally by the team.
Cooke refused to comment yesterday on Allen's status. But it was learned the owner decided Allen was not the right man for the job after firing Pardee and choosing to stay with Beathard as general manager.
"There is no chance Allen will be hired," said a source, who added that Allen "desperately wanted the job back despite what he says to the newspapers. He has been talking to Cooke regularly and the last time, he asked him to let him come back."
But Allen wanted the same power he had enjoyed in his earlier Redskin tenure, including control over personnel and the draft. Those areas, however, come under Beathard's jurisdiction. And Beathard is the man Cooke has chosen to rebuild the Redskins following a power struggle with Pardee.
Of the four most prominent candidates for Pardee's job, Gibbs most closely fits the profile the Redskins want: He is an NFL assistant, he is offense-minded -- San Diego has the most explosive offense in the league -- and he has a reputation for being able to motivate and teach.
But the Chargers still are in the playoffs. Until their season ends, Gibbs likely would not be available for an interview with Cooke.
Gibbs, 40, is not one of the well-known assistant coaches in the NFL, but he has a fine reputation among his peers. He has never been a head coach at any level, but has been a top assistant in both the college and pro ranks, serving under John McKay, Frank Broyles and Don Coryell. He has been an NFL assistant since 1973 at St. Louis, Tampa Bay and San Diego.
Bass, 45, is the defensive coordinator for Tampa Bay, which led the NFL in defense two years ago. This is his fourth season with the Bucs after earlier jobs with the Chargers (under Sid Gillman) and Cincinnati (under Paul Brown). He also was on Coryell's staff at San Diego State, where he helped coach Gibbs.
Bass has been mentioned regularly with most NFL vacancies the past few seasons. He is considered one of the league's most literate coaches, having authored two books of poetry and contributed to five Super Bowl programs. But it seems unlikely Cooke would hire a defensive-minded coach; Pardee specialized in defense.
Rogers, head coach at Arizona State, has gained notoriety for his wide-open, pass-oriented offenses. Schnellenberger, a long-time friend of Beathard's, has done an outstanding job of rebuilding the University of Miami football program. He was head coach of the Baltimore Colts for less than two seasons before being fired.
Gibbs apparently had been considered seriously for the New Orleans Saints coaching position before Bum Phillips was fired by Houston. Phillips now is the leading candidate for the Saints' job and is expected to be hired shortly.
Beathard said that the Redskins will screen a number of candidates. He said they would select a pro assistant over a college head coach, but refused to limit the selection process to just NFL assistants.
"A number of people had already called and asked to be considered if a job came open, and I have received calls today," he said. "I am looking at candidates and will recommend the most qualified ones to Mr. Cooke for interviews."
A long-shot prospect is Hugh Campbell, the head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos, winner of the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup. Campbell has made it known he is available for an NFL job, although sources say he would be very selective.
Dan Reeves of the Dallas Cowboys also is still under consideration, sources say. Like Gibbs, Reeves comes from a well-established offensive system that has impressed Cooke.
"We haven't set a time limit," Beathard said.