FOXBORO, MASS., JAN. 4 -- New England Coach Rod Rust, whose team had the worst record in its 31-year history, was fired after one season as coach of the Patriots.

The decision was announced after a morning meeting today lasting about three hours between Rust and new chief executive officer Sam Jankovich.

Rust got his first NFL head coaching job after spending the last 12 seasons as a defensive coordinator with three clubs. But he inherited a team that went 5-11 last season under Raymond Berry, who was fired.

It got progressively worse. The Patriots lost their last 14 games and finished at 1-15. They tied NFL single-season records for most losses and most consecutive losses. In addition, there were off-the-field incidents that rocked the organization, including sexual harassment charges by a female reporter against several Patriots' players.

"I'm disappointed but I think I'll survive it," Rust said. "I think {when} you're 1-15, you can't expect the world to be all rosy."

Rust, 62, had two years and an option year left on his contract. Speculation about a successor has focused on Illinois Coach John Makovic, who also coached the Kansas City Chiefs. Jankovich has not indicated who he is considering.

Rust had plenty of time to prepare for his firing. He knew that after a troubled season, his job was in jeopardy. After meeting with Jankovich, Rust accepted his fate without bitterness.

"I don't think I'm expected to be happy about it," Rust said, "but I certainly bear no rancor towards him nor the team."

He agreed to keep working for the Patriots by preparing evaluations of players for the next coach.

"I have no problem trying to help them have a good start," he said.

This season, the Patriots set an NFL record for fewest points scored in a 16-game season. They allowed the second-most points in the league this year.

"It's a direct reflection on me because that's the nature of the job," Rust said. "Whether it's my fault or not is a totally different subject."

He acknowledged the off-the-field incidents made a difficult situation even tougher.

"There were a whole lot of factors that made it an unusual year," Rust said. "I don't consider getting to coach a professional team a birthright. It's something you may have a chance to do and you may not. My turn was a brief one, that's all."