Ed Wyche, whose 1990 team finished 1-10, was fired yesterday after three seasons as head football coach at Morgan State University. The announcement was made by university president Earl S. Richardson, who made the final decision.
Morgan coaches work on year-to-year contracts, and Wyche will continue to teach his three classes in the physical education department until the end of the school year.
Athletic director Leonard Braxton met with about 40 members of the football team late yesterday afternoon, informing them of the decision and asking for their support in the transition. The assistant coaches will remain until the new head coach has time to evaluate the situation and make his own decisions.
"Some assessments had been made of the athletic department and its staff, and in this case, there was a decision that the Morgan State football program needed new leadership if it is going to move forward," said Raymond Downs, vice president for student affairs.
Richardson was out of his office and unavailable for comment.
"There will be a nationwide search, and, while we obviously want to find the person best suited to the position, we are aware there is a time element so as not to lose ground in the recruiting process," Downs said.
Said Braxton: "We would expect to handle this the same way we did our basketball search last spring. Again, the time will be taken and the effort made to ensure that the program is given a chance at a fresh start.
"At the same time, though, problems take awhile to develop, and they take awhile to resolve. Thus, we are looking for the best person to turn things around, to give us some stability. We realize this doesn't happen immediately, so patience is needed in giving our new coaches time to implement their programs."
Although there were extenuating circumstances in several instances, stability has not been the keystone of Morgan State football for the past 17 years.
The university has not had a football coach remain for longer than three years since Earl Banks retired as head coach after the 1973 season. From 1978-80, Clarence Thomas went 17-15-1, taking the 1979 team to the National Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs. Since 1981, five head coaches have compiled a record of 18-83-1.
Wyche, who replaced Jesse Thomas after the 1987 season, went 1-10 his first year, beating only Elizabeth City State, 21-0. Last year, the Bears started 3-0-1, then skidded to a 4-6-1 finish. Even without record-breaking quarterback Darryl Jackson, there were expectations for a respectable season, expectations that, as it developed, went unfulfilled.
The Bears lost their first 10, before beating Division II Cheyney University, 2-0, on a blocked punt that went for a safety.
Although Braxton suggested that the decision to release Wyche was based on a number of items, not solely the won-lost record, Downs said it was the bottom line. "And we have no one in mind as a replacement at the moment."
Downs said he had not received much response to a national ranking that placed Morgan State last among 193 Division I-A and I-AA football teams for the past season.
"However," he said, "our hard-core fans were disappointed, and we certainly heard from them."
Despite its record, Morgan's strength of schedule placed it ahead of 18 teams.
Morgan State had only three home games this fall, but it has four tentatively scheduled for next year and a fifth, against archrival Howard University, will be played in the Bahamas.