Jack Pardee quit as coach of the Chicago Bears this morning and flew to Washington to seek the vacant Redskin headcoaching position.
"I have to get busy, now that I have permission to talk to the Redskins, or I won't have a job anywhere," said Pardee, who made his unexpected decisions as soon as he learned Wednesday that George Allen had been fired by the Redskins.
"I have mixed emotions about this whole thing.I love this (chicago) community and this team," said Pardee, as assistant Redskin coach under Allen from 1972 to 1974, "but those are also the same emotions I have about Washington."
Other candidates for the Redskin head coaching job are Dan Reeves, an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys; Mike McCormark, an assistant at Cincinnati and former Redskin assistant and head coach of the Eagles; Ted Marchibroda of the Baltimore Colts; Bill Walsh of Stanford University, and Don Coryell of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Other names include Ara Parseghian, formerly the head coach of Notre Dame who is no longer coaching, and Penn State's Joe Paterno.
But Pardee, 41, is the No. 1 candidate, having done well in his one year as a head coach with the Florida Blazers of the World Football League and three years with the Chicago Bears.
Of the general manager's job, several people have been recommended to Redskin president Edward Bennett Williams. Among them are Frank Ryan, athletic director at Yale who was a quarterback with the Redskins and Cleveland Browns.
Pardee plucked a Texas Stetson hat off his desk in the Bears' offices and went out into a driving-snow-storm headed for O'Hare Airport. He and his wife flew to Washington for a meeting with Williams.
"I'll speak to Edward Bennett Williams in Washington tonight if I get there in time," said Pardee. "I honestly didn't know Allen had been fired until i saw it one the 11 o'clock news last night. I nearly fell out of bed."
The Bears front office, which held a desperation, 11th-hour meeting with Pardee this morning, was apparently caught in deep hibernation by the coach's defection.
Pardee, whose three-year Bear contract does not expire until the end of this month, has publicly complained about inadequate playing and practice facilities in Chicago.
The concensus from Bear officials to the man in the windy streets was that Pardee would not have thrown away a job with a young playoff team - Chicago - unless he were almost certain of being offered the Redskin.
"Jack has done a hell of a job for us," said general manager Jim Finks before the meeting. "I told Jack earlier this week, 'We'd better get on with his contract negotiations or it'll get a little out of hand.'"
Finks' fears were correct. Just hours later, he was trying to save face, saying, "I called for the meeting to offer Jack a new contract here in Chicago.
Nobody has underestimated Jack's role with the Bears in the last three years.
"I do keep my eyes open about what's going on in this business," said Finks, adding, "Jack and I had no plans about making a coaching change going into this morning's meeting."
However, a new contract played little or no part in Pardee's action. The Bears' decrepit home (Soldier Field) and a practice field in an open, often unusable public park, certainly did. Pardee's foundness for Washington was also a factor.
"Everybody has one job in their profession that they would consider just about perfect for them, and that's Washington for me. That's about how I'd put it," Pardee said.
"My contract problems with the Bears could probably have been worked out. And until last night I thought they would be, because I didn't think there would be any other openings for me."
Technically, Pardee could still coach the Bears next year. When his Chicago contract runs out in 12 days he will be a free agent, and could coach for any team. "Maybe my asking for permission to talk with Washington is the same thing as resigning," explained Pardee.
In Los Angeles, the firing of Allen appears to have catapulted the former Los Angeles Ram coach into top contention for his old job.
"We're shocked to read of his firing," said Ram general manager Don Klosterman, this morning. "If he's interested in the job, which I'm sure he would be, we'd have to interview him and consider him along with the rest of the candidates we've to interview in the past three or four days.
"George Allen is one of the best coaches in the National Football League," added Klosterman. "His record speaks for itself. He'd cartainly be considered a top candidate by virtue of his history of a football coach."
Allen coached the Rams from 1966-70. His teams complied as 49-17.4 record.
Carroll Rosenbloom, owner of the Rams, yesterday voiced interest in Allen's availability, according to a Los Angeles source.
"We have great respect for Mr. Allen and his coaching record. If he is free, and wants to talk with us, we will talk," Rosenbloom was quoted as saying in conversations with friends at his Malibu Beach home.
Otherwise, Rosenbloom was guarded in his comments on Allen, the source told The Washington Post. He was reported as saying he was "scanning" a dozen candidates for the head coaching post with the coachless Rams. However, the source said, "The name of George Allen came frequently into his discussions."
The Rams' coaching position has been vacant since Jan. 11, when Chuck Knox, Los Angeles' coach the past five seasons, resigned to sign a six-year contract as coach of the Buffalo Bills.
Others in addition to Allen who have been mentioned a s candidates for the Rams' job include Stanford coach Bill Walsh, St. Louis Cardinal coach Don Coryell, Los Angeles assistant coach Ray Malavasi, Dallas Cowboy assistant coach Dan Reeves and former Stanford and Denver Bronco coach John Ralston.