Norvell freed from contract with Raiders

The object of a hiring tug-of-war that fueled further acrimony between the Raiders and former head coach Bill Callahan, tight ends assistant Jay Norvell has been freed from the final year of his NFL contract, and will now move to the University of Nebraska as the school's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Updated: February 16, 2004, 8:55 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The object of a hiring tug-of-war that fueled further acrimony between the Oakland Raiders and former head coach Bill Callahan, tight ends assistant Jay Norvell has been freed from the final year of his NFL contract and will now move to the University of Nebraska as the school's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

As first reported by ESPN.com three weeks ago, the Raiders had blocked attempts by Callahan and Nebraska officials to hire Norvell, who had one year remaining on his deal in Oakland. In fact, Raiders owner Al Davis even threatened to sue the university, citing what he and team officials claimed was tortious interference by the school.

The move angered league officials, since the Nebraska job would have made Norvell the first minority offensive coordinator in Big 12 history, and also provided him a potential chance to prepare for future consideration as an NFL head coach. Raiders officials have not announced the release of Norvell from his contract, but league sources and Nebraska staffers have confirmed it.

Callahan termed it a "mutual agreement" and an "amiable" parting.

Norvell, 40, was with the Raiders for two seasons. Before that, he served four seasons on the Indianapolis Colts staff.

A former Chicago Bears defensive back, Norvell played at Iowa and worked as a college coach for 10 years. Among his jobs was a stint at Wisconsin, where he and Callahan worked together.

He is regarded as a bright offensive mind who will seek to quickly diversify the Cornhuskers traditional run-oriented attack. Norvell joins another former Raiders aide, Randy Jordan, on the Nebraska staff.

In other Raiders coaching staff news, Norv Turner has hired Western Kentucky defensive coordinator Don Martindale as linebackers coach. He replaces Fred Pagac in that position and will be reunited with longtime friend Rob Ryan, who was hired earlier this week as the Raiders' new defensive coordinator.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

ALSO SEE