In a 1-17 tailspin, Navy tosses Weatherbie aside

Academy names Lantz to coach last 3 gamesIn tailspin, Mids fire Weatherbie as coach

College Football

October 29, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The Naval Academy yesterday fired football coach Charlie Weatherbie one day after the team suffered its 17th defeat in the past 18 games.

Defensive coordinator Rick Lantz was named the interim head coach with three games remaining in the season.

The dismissal was considered inevitable after the season began with Navy straining through its second consecutive poor autumn, currently with an 0-7 record after Saturday's heartbreaking 21-20 defeat at Toledo.

Since successive winning seasons in 1996 (9-3, including an Aloha Bowl victory over California) and 1997 (7-4), the Midshipmen have won nine of 41 games and are 3-15 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, their home field.

New athletic director Chet Gladchuk saluted Weatherbie's contributions to the academy - both on and off the field - but added that "the head football coach at the United States Naval Academy assumes a very important responsibility.

"He is asked to annually field a highly competitive and successful program that reflects standards of achievement consistent with our institutional mission. This season, unsuccessful to date, has led us to the conclusion that the Midshipmen clearly need a new perspective and consequently new leadership," Gladchuk said in a news release.

"Change at season's end was inevitable, but acting today provides the administration with critical additional lead time to invite and recruit interest from the coaching community for this important position."

Lantz returned to the academy this season after spending 10 years at the University of Virginia under former Navy coach George Welsh. He was an assistant coach at Navy for six years previously under Rick Forzano and Welsh.

Lantz is becoming a college head coach for the first time, but has 35 years of experience at the Division I level.

Weatherbie was hired by recently retired athletic director Jack Lengyel for the 1995 season and signed a 10-year contract extension after 1996. When Gladchuk came aboard to replace Lengyel, the pressure to reverse the skid only increased.

Since Gladchuk took over as athletic director, Navy has lost to Boston College, his alma mater, and Air Force, Rice, Rutgers and Toledo.

Weatherbie finishes his tenure with a 30-45 record during six-plus seasons. His victory total ranks fifth in Navy history.

Vice Admiral John Ryan, superintendent of the academy, said in a statement: "I have the utmost respect for Charlie Weatherbie as a man, and I'm particularly grateful for all the hard work and effort he has put into his players and this institution."

Weatherbie said he enjoyed the time he spent at the academy and associations with all aspects of the program, but particularly with the players.

"While we weren't able to achieve more success during the past two years in terms of our won-loss record, I am extremely proud of our players and staff's efforts on and off the field.

"It was a privilege to have been associated with young men who will be the future leaders in our Navy and Marine Corps. I wish them all the best in their careers," he said in a statement.

The Midshipmen are idle this weekend before meeting Tulane at home Nov. 10.

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