After serious soul-searching and a lot of praying, Navy football coach Charlie Weatherbie decided last night to reject an offer from Baylor University and remain at the academy, where this year he produced the Midshipmen's first winning season (8-3) since 1982 and a trip to the Aloha Bowl on Christmas Day.
Weatherbie, 40, who has strong family and football roots in the Southwest, had conferred with Baylor officials Tuesday and was reportedly offered the job to replace Chuck Reedy, who was fired after posting a 23-22 record with the Bears in four seasons and finishing last this year in the Big 12 Conference's South Division.
Weatherbie said: "After going and looking at Baylor, I have grown to realize how great a job I have working with such great young men as I have on my Navy team.
"The academy is a super place to work, and I believe we have the opportunity to be good year in and year out at a place that stands for something much greater than football."
Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel has been working the past five weeks on extending Weatherbie's five-year contract that was to have expired after the 1999 season.
"We've pretty much got it finalized," Lengyel said yesterday, "and we hope it will be signed before the Aloha Bowl game with California."
Weatherbie, who was reportedly earning $170,000 a year, can expect a substantial raise.
Said Lengyel: "We're very pleased that Coach Weatherbie and his staff will be staying to finish the job they started two years ago."
It took only two years for Weatherbie to become a hot coach, resurrecting a football program that had struggled since George Welsh's departure in 1981. In the past weeks, he has rejected head coaching overtures from Boston College and Pitt, and now Baylor.
The native of Sedan, Kan., said the strong support of the academy's administration and the Annapolis community weighed heavily in his decision.
Said Weatherbie: "I enjoy the type of men I coach, and I feel the administration from [school superintendent] Admiral Charles Larson down to athletic director Jack Lengyel is super-supportive in what I've been doing. I believe if we were 3-8 instead of 8-3, they would still be supportive, and that's important to me."
He told his team, which will leave for Hawaii on Wednesday, of his decision last night.
Gervy Alota, the junior defensive back who will likely be a co-captain next season, said: "It would have been heartbreaking if Coach Weatherbie had left. He is very popular with the brigade and has really transformed this team. We have a strong nucleus coming back next year. This will give us stability."
Weatherbie said he had given the Baylor job serious consideration because of the school's location and because new athletic director Tom Stanton said he was looking for "a godly man" to coach at the Baptist school.
"Most of my family is in that southwest corner of the country," he said, "and since I became a coach, I've always recruited in that area, and, of course, I played collegiately at Oklahoma State."
A devout Baptist, Weatherbie said he needed God's guidance in making his decision.
"I had to get down on my knees and get God's help," he said. "Spiritually, in my career and life, I always categorize things. I put God first, than family, than church."
Weatherbie said he and his family have grown to love the Annapolis area.
"There are a lot of pluses here," he said. Perhaps also weighing in his decision to stay was the fact that his son, Jonas, is the starting quarterback at Broadneck High, where he is a junior.
Pub Date: 12/12/96