Syracuse coach Dick MacPherson has accepted the job as coach of the New England Patriots and could be named to the position today, according to reports yesterday.
MacPherson would become the Patriots' fifth coach in 10 years, replacing Rod Rust, who was fired Friday after one season. The team went 1-15, tying a National Football League record for most losses in a season, and lost its last 14 games.
Late yesterday afternoon, the Patriots scheduled a "major press conference" for 10 a.m. today.
CBS-TV reported it was told by sources at Syracuse that MacPherson, a former assistant with the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos, had told athletic director Jake Crouthamel that he has accepted an offer to become head coach of the Patriots.
"I don't know where CBS got that," Crouthamel said. "Until the New England Patriots announce something, that's it."
NBC-TV, citing sources close to MacPherson, reported that he could be named as early as today.
The Boston Globe reported that a source close to Sam Jankovich, the Patriots chief executive officer, said Jankovich had talked with MacPherson during the past weekend.
There was no confirmation or denial from the Patriots or Syracuse regarding any of the reports.
Jankovich said Friday in announcing Rust's firing that he wanted the next coach to be "highly energized and enthusiastic, that's really full of fire." Rust, 62, was low-keyed. MacPherson is much more demonstrative.
Jankovich also said if he chose a college head coach, he'd want "someone who has had some experience at the professional level."
MacPherson, 60, has a 66-46-4 record at Syracuse, including 7-4-2 in 1990.
* EAGLES: Coach Buddy Ryan said he isn't worried about his job, even though Philadelphia owner Norman Braman criticized Ryan's benching of quarterback Randall Cunningham for one series in the Eagles' 20-6 playoff loss to the Washington Redskins Saturday.
"Seven points behind and he embarrasses Randall before a national television audience," The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted Braman as saying.
"Are you sure he made that statement?" Ryan asked at his final weekly news conference. But he responded to it anyway.
"That's his opinion. I don't think I embarrassed anybody," Ryan said.
Ryan said he sent in Jim McMahon, who had completed six of nine passes this season, because he hoped the backup quarterback would generate some offense.
"People are scared to make decisions. Just stay pat, don't do anything, hope everything works out. Cover your eyes. I was trying to win the ballgame.
"I was embarrassed by the way we were doing things. It's the coach's prerogative everywhere I've coached to take people out of the game and put them in.
"I'd rather be here today having you [reporters] second-guess me for putting McMahon in, then to be sitting in that office second-guessing myself for not having tried something. You've got to try and win the game while it's going on."
Ryan said that he didn't consider Braman's remark a slap in the face to him.
"I sure don't. He's a fan. He owns the team. He's allowed to say what he wants to just like you and everybody else," Ryan said.