Belichick decision imminent Urged by players, Modell may act today

February 14, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Baltimore owner Art Modell said yesterday that he expects to determine the status of five-year head coach Bill Belichick soon, a development that could take place as early as today and would result in a new coach for the Baltimore franchise.

Modell was urged by his players on Monday to make a decision on Belichick, or bring in a new coach so they can begin off-season workouts and implement a new system.

Belichick has two years left on a contract worth nearly $1.3 million, but has not received a commitment from Modell that he will coach in Baltimore.

When asked if he had already caused the players to lose confidence in Belichick by not making a decision on his status, Modell said: "I will talk with Bill very shortly, maybe tomorrow [today]. As for names of any candidates, I'm not going to get into it. No comment."

According to sources close to Modell, the owner had wanted Belichick to remain as coach but became unhappy with Belichick's leadership when the team lost six of its last seven games after the move to Baltimore was announced on Nov. 6.

Modell said he has had no contact with former Indianapolis Colts coach Ted Marchibroda, 64, who is considered the favorite to replace Belichick if he is fired.

If Marchibroda is hired, he would be replacing the man who started his coaching career under him in 1975 as a 23-year-old assistant with the Baltimore Colts.

Marchibroda also said he had not been contacted by Modell. Marchibroda coached the Baltimore Colts from 1975 to 1979, winning three AFC East titles.

Two other possible candidates are Oakland Raiders assistant coach Joe Bugel and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Pete Carroll. Bugel was 20-44 in three years as head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals, but many thought he was fired a year before the Cardinals were about to become a playoff team. Carroll was 6-10 in 1994 with the New York Jets.

Modell's indecision on Belichick has caused rumors throughout the league about potential candidates who have ties to Maryland. The list includes New Orleans Saints coach Jim Mora, who coached the Baltimore Stars of the USFL, and former University of Maryland coach Bobby Ross, who coaches the San Diego Chargers.

"I have no idea where that stuff comes from. I'm here," said Ross, who is believed to be in a power struggle with Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard.

"Jim Mora is not available, and never was," said Jim Miller, the Saints' executive vice president.

On Monday morning, former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula turned down Modell's request to either coach or run Baltimore's front office. Shula said he knew of no other candidates for Belichick's job, but said he was primarily interested because Modell wanted him to run the organization.

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