With a bright red -- or was it crimson? -- ski cap pulled snugly down on his head, Ray Perkins said the announcement was no more than a "bit of distraction" for the New York Giants at this afternoon's practice.
"With everybody talking about it, maybe it distracted the players a little, but after that it was all business, getting ready for the Redskins," he said.
Perkins confirmed reports that he was headed south, to fill Bear Bryant's hat, when he officially resigned as the Giants' coach this morning. His successor, Bill Parcells, was announced today by General Manager George Young within two hours of Perkins' press conference.
Parcells, 41, was an assistant coach at six colleges before becoming Air Force Academy's coach in 1978. His team went 3-8 that year, then Parcells left to become an assistant to Perkins, the new coach of the Giants.
Parcells, who has been New York's defensive coordinator and linebacker coach the last two seasons, agreed to a multiyear contract at an undisclosed salary, according to Young.
For Perkins, a return to Alabama, his alma mater, is a prospect he's contemplated ever since he left Tuscaloosa years ago.
"Oh, it's not something I thought about all the time, enough to plan my life so I could get back there. But I have looked forward to it," he said.
Perkins, known for his serious demeanor, told his players of his decision early this morning. "He was wearing his usual intense stone face," said linebacker Harry Carson. "He was not smiling when he told us."
Carson said no one was surprised. "You couldn't expect a guy like Ray Perkins to turn down an opportunity to go coach 'Bama. There is only one head coach for us right now. But if they (the Giants) hadn't announced his replacement now, the Redskins' game would have been strictly secondary."
There were several reports circulating here as to who contacted who first regarding the job.
"He (Bryant) called me when he was in New York (recently to attend a dinner) to ask me to sit at his table," Perkins said. "Then he called me the next day. My name had come up (for the coaching job). He said the president (University of Alabama President Joab L. Thomas) was scared off me because of the salary. They were afraid, because of the money, I wouldn't be interested.
"But this (football) isn't something I do for the money," he said, sipping a root beer and attacking a takeout order of pork chops after practice. "If I wanted money, with all the time I put in, I'd get into something else, put in the same kind of time and be a multimillionaire."
Perkins is reported to be getting $100,000 a year from Alabama on a five-year contract. He would neither confirm nor deny that, but when asked if he might be able to double that with outside income from such as radio and television shows, Perkins stared at his food, crossed his right foot over his left knee and said, "I'm very happy with what I've got. The salary, the benefits, the entire setup. I'm very happy."
Perkins reportedly earned between $250,000 and 300,000 a year from the Giants on a contract that still had three years to run.
Perkins insisted the recent NFL strike did not affect his decision to leave professional football. "There were things about it (the strike) I did not like, such as the fact that the game of football was never mentioned once during all of those weeks," he said. "It did open my eyes, and open my perspective. But it had nothing to do with my decision."
Perkins visited Alabama last Sunday, (the Giants had beaten the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday) and Monday was told he had the job. "I know they talked to a few other people about it that same day, but they said I was their unanimous choice."
Perkins wasn't sure who those others were, but cracked a ghost of a grin as he said, "Like to know, if you can tell me."
But until the Giants' season ends, Perkins says, he will devote no time to Alabama. "This is my team, and this may be my last shot," he said. "I came wanting to go to the Super Bowl, so this will probably be my last chance.
"I don't care much about moving again after this one."