Miami's Erickson to return home, coach Seahawks

January 12, 1995|By McClatchy News Service

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Dennis Erickson, a 47-year-old native of Everett, Wash., who led the University of Miami to two national titles, fulfills a lifetime dream today when he will announce his decision to come home to coach the Seattle Seahawks.

A news conference is set for 2:30 p.m. today in Palo Alto, Calif., where Erickson will coach the East team Saturday in the East-West Shrine college all-star game. The Associated Press also confirmed Erickson's hiring.

Erickson replaces Tom Flores, who was fired Dec. 29 after six years with the Seahawks, the last three as head coach. Erickson will not assume the general manager position vacated by Flores.

The deal came together following a hectic 12-hour period between Tuesday night and yesterday morning when Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen flew into the Bay Area to meet Erickson.

Erickson listened intently but never allowed either discussion to involve money. Money wasn't the issue. Had he shown more interest, Erickson could have extracted $1 million a year from the Broncos or $2 million from Lurie.

The chance to come home meant more to him than money. He accepted a four-year contract worth around $800,000 a year in base salary. Adding a television and radio package and incentives, Erickson could make more than $1 million per season.

If certain team performance incentives are reached during the four years, a fifth year will be guaranteed.

Owner Ken Behring felt comfortable enough about the progress of the negotiations yesterday that he headed to Australia to hunt wild boar. His son, team president David Behring, was empowered to conclude the talks and settle the differences.

Erickson sought only a fair deal. He was making $700,000 a year at Miami and wanted a slight raise.

A low initial offer Monday by the Seahawks of less than $600,000 a year disappointed Erickson and caused him to consider meetings with Bowlen and Lurie.

Erickson compiled a 113-40-1 record in stops at Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State and Miami.

The leading candidates to replace Erickson at Miami include Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick, Miami Dolphins offense coach Gary Stevens and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Butch Davis.

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