6 are gone, 3 may be going on NFL coaches' scoreboard Ross, Parcells wait their turn to jump in

December 27, 1991|By Vito Stellino

Chuck Noll, Lindy Infante, Dan Henning, John Robinson, Sam Wyche and Jerry Burns are gone, Richard Williamson is going, Rick Venturi is waiting, Bobby Ross and Bill Parcells are coming and Chuck Knox hopes to make a trip through the coach's revolving door.

On the day after Christmas, that's how the NFL's tangled coaching derby shaped up yesterday.

When Noll resigned after 23 years as Pittsburgh Steelers coach yesterday, he became the sixth coach to depart since the end of the season.

Williamson, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coach, is expected to become the seventh. The Bucs apparently have been too busy pursuing Parcells to bother with the formality of dismissing Williamson.

Two other coaches -- Venturi, who was named Indianapolis Colts coach after Ron Meyer was fired five games into the season, and Chuck Knox of the Seattle Seahawks -- are waiting to find out their fate.

Venturi, who is expected to remain as defensive coordinator if the Colts hire a new head coach, may not know his status until February.

Knox has a one-month window during which he can leave or the Seahawks can fire him. Knox has said he still wants to coach and apparently hopes to replace Robinson as Rams coach before being fired by the Seahawks.

In any case, this may be the most precarious year for head coaches since eight were fired after the 1982 strike season.

Noll was the only one of the six who have departed to truly resign. Robinson and Jerry Burns of the Minnesota Vikings announced they had resigned because they knew they were going to be fired if they didn't.

As usual, Wyche is in a category of his own. The Bengals announced on Christmas Eve that he resigned, and Wyche countered by saying he was fired. At stake is $1 million in salary during the last two years of his contract.

The stakes are so high that Wyche, who normally is never at a loss for words, has made no public comment except to say he was fired. He's probably following his lawyer's advice.

The speculation is that he got into a squabble with team president Mike Brown about his role in personnel decisions and that the two men may be having a "he-said, he-said" debate with the lawyers on whether Wyche quit or was fired.

Cincinnati is one of six teams without a coach, and Tampa Bay soon will be the seventh.

It's likely that Ross, the Georgia Tech coach, and Bill Parcells, a former New York Giants coach, will fill two of these jobs.

San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard all but confirmed yesterday that he wants Ross by saying, "Everything points toward Ross."

But Beathard added it's not a done deal, and Ross may have other options. The speculation is that he's on the Steelers' list.

Parcells is being courted by both Bays -- Tampa and Green. Reports out of Tampa, Fla., are that the Bucs have offered him the job, but want an answer by the weekend so they can pursue other candidates, including Knox, if Parcells turns them down.

Parcells denied reports yesterday that the Bucs have made him an offer, but he's spending the season as an NBC-TV commentator, so he's probably waiting to go public on the network's pre-game show Sunday.

Parcells has to choose between total control of a Tampa Bay organization noted for losing and less than total control in Green Bay, where he'd be working for a friend, new general manager Ron Wolf, who may give him a better chance to win than he would have in Tampa Bay.

Besides Parcells and Ross, two others who may get head coaching jobs are former Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan, who may be courted by the Rams, and University of Miami coach Dennis Erickson, who could go to Seattle.

Then it's a case of rounding up the usual suspects. Among the others mentioned as NFL candidates are Dennis Green of

Stanford, who has a pro background, and such assistants as Dave Wannstedt of the Dallas Cowboys, Vince Tobin of the Chicago Bears, Richie Petitbon of the Washington Redskins, Mike Holmgren of the San Francisco 49ers (who has a clause in his contract allowing the team to stop him from leaving if it wants) and Pete Carroll of the New York Jets.

Coaching derby

Team.. .. .. Coach.. .. .. .. . Status

Minnesota.. .Jerry Burns.. .. . Resigned

L.A. Rams.. .John Robinson.. .. Resigned

Green Bay.. .Lindy Infante.. .. Fired

San Diego.. .Dan Henning.. .. . Fired

Cincinnati.. Sam Wyche.. .. .. .Club says he resigned; he says he was fired Pittsburgh.. Chuck Noll.. .. .. Resigned

Tampa Bay.. .Richard Williamson Likely to be fired

Seattle.. .. Chuck Knox.. .. .. Hopes to get another job before he's fired Indianapolis Rick Venturi.. .. Likely to be retained as defensive coordinator if new coach is hired

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