Dave Shula and Jim Mora, two coaches with ties to Baltimore, yesterday became the first two NFL coaches to depart on the same day during the regular season.
Shula, who lived in Baltimore for seven years in the 1960s when his father was the head coach of the Colts, played a year for the Colts and was attending law school in Baltimore when his father recruited him as a coach in 1982, was fired as the coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The dismissal came two weeks before he was scheduled to return to Baltimore to coach the Bengals against the Ravens.
Bruce Coslet, the offensive coordinator and the former head coach of the New York Jets, was named to replace him.
Mora, who coached the Baltimore Stars -- somewhat deceptively named since the team trained in Philadelphia and played in College Park -- to the 1985 U.S. Football League title, resigned as coach of the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have a bye this week, and owner Tom Benson said he and general manager Bill Kuharich will name a new coach very quickly.
According to NFL records, two coaches were fired in a three-day span in 1984 -- Marty Schottenheimer replaced Sam Rutigliano in Cleveland on Oct. 22 and Raymond Berry replaced Ron Meyer in New England three days later. But this is the first time two have departed on the same day.
Shula, who attended a news conference with Mike Brown, the president and general manager who fired him, said: "I wish Bruce Coslet and the Bengals all the luck in the world. I thank Mike for his patience he's shown through the years as we've struggled to put a winner on the field. The record is what I'm judged by. That obviously was not adequate."
Shula, whose father, Don, is the winningest coach in NFL history with 347 victories, lost 50 games quicker than any other coach in league history. He departed with a 19-52 record that included a 1-6 mark this year. Blowing a 21-0 lead Sunday in San Francisco in a 28-21 defeat to the 49ers sealed his fate.
Shula said when he told his father of his fate: "He was very supportive. He said the things you would expect a father to say."
Another of Don Shula's sons, Mike, who is the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is the only Shula still active in the game.
Being Don Shula's son probably helped Dave Shula get the job, but it made it more difficult for him to get the respect of the players. It didn't help that Shula, who's 37, looks much younger.
"There are some guys on this team that have poor attitudes and didn't have respect for the man," said offensive tackle Joe Walter, a 12-year veteran. "I feel sorry for him."
In contrast to Shula, Mora was an immediate hit when he arrived in New Orleans.
After a 7-9 record in his first season in 1986, he went 12-3 in the 1987 strike season and also coached the team into the playoffs in 1990, 1991 and 1992, although he never won a playoff game.
The organization suffered a setback when its late general manager, Jim Finks, was forced by health problems to give up his duties in 1993, and the team started to fade. It got off to an 0-5 start each of the past two years.
The breaking point for Mora came when the Saints suffered a 19-7 loss at Carolina on Sunday. Noted for his temper and postgame tirades, Mora had said this year he hadn't lost his temper after a media consultant, Andrea Kirby, gave an off-season seminar for the team's front-office personnel.
But that went by the boards after Sunday's game, when Mora launched into a 10-minute, profanity-laced tirade in which he knocked both the players and the coaches. It included at least 25 words that cannot be printed in this newspaper.
At a news conference yesterday, Mora's eyes were red and his hands were shaking as he said: "I would encourage everyone to continue to support this team and this organization. They work very hard, and this team is very, very close to being a very, very good football team."
In his 11th year, Mora was the NFL's longest-tenured coach with one team.
Pub Date: 10/22/96