Mike McCormack will be the coach of the Baltimore Colts next season, team owner Robert Irsay said today following the Colts' eighth straight defeat, 27-10, to the Miami Dolphins.
Moments after his team's record had dropped to 1-8, Irsay walked into the locker room, shook hands with McCormack and said, "No problems, Mike. No problems."
At that point, one of Irsay's aides said, "Let's go, Bob. We need to get going."
"No," said Irsay. "I want to talk to Mike."
The two then disappeared into the coach's locker room. They emerged 10 minutes later, walked to a far corner of the locker room, sat and talked for another 15 minutes.
After the conversation, McCormack said, "Contrary to what you guys might think, I'm not fired. We had a long discussion. We talked about a lot of things involving the football team."
Asked if there would be personnel changes, McCormack said, "I can't answer that right now, but we're going to bring in some people tomorrow." Asked how many new players would be at the Colts' camp Monday, McCormack said, "As many as we can find."
As McCormack departed, Irsay, on his way out, said, "Mike and I had a nice conversation. I gave Mike a vote of confidence, and I said to him that there's something wrong with this football team, and I told him to find out what it is."
Asked if he knew what was wrong, Irsay said, "Yes, players that are playing are not playing well." Then he added, "Mike McCormack will be my coach, and George Allen will not."
When someone asked how long McCormack would be the coach, Irsay grabbed a radio man's microphone, leaned down and said, "Mike McCormack will be my coach next week. I mean next year."
Continuing, Irsay said, "I meant next year. He'll be my coach next year."
McCormack is in the second year of a three-year contract signed before last season when he succeeded Ted Marchibroda, like McCormack, a former Redskin assistant.
The Colts were 7-9 last year, then won their opener against New England this season. They have not won since.
In the three games immediately preceeding today, the Colt defense has yielded 126 points and more than 1,500 yards.
Today's game was one of continued frustration for Baltimore, with David Woodley running a quarterback draw for one Miami touchdown, throwing 32 yards to Duriel Harris for another and six yards to Ronnie Lee for a third score.
Rookie fullback Andra Franklin, the Dolphins' second-round draft pick out of Nebraska, had his first 100-yard game as a pro, gaining 101 yards in 23 carries.
The Colts' only touchdown came on a second-quarter, five-yard Bert Jones-to-Don McCauley pass. Late in the fourth quarter, the Colts had two apparent touchdowns called back on the same series by holding penalties.
After the game, McCormack and quarterback Jones argued strenuously with referee Gordon McCarter about the calls. McCormack was in the process of explaining to two writers that he had asked McCarter to explain who was called for the holds and what they were called for, when Irsay and his entourage entered the locker room.