FOXBORO, MASS., JAN. 7 -- Dick MacPherson, the coach at Syracuse the past 10 seasons and a former NFL assistant, was named today as coach of the New England Patriots, the league's worst team.

He succeeds Rod Rust, who was fired last Friday after the team went 1-15 in its only season under him.

MacPherson, the Patriots' third head coach in three years, brings one thing to the team that the last two coaches lacked -- a demonstrative personality.

He was hired to restore something else to the franchise -- a winning record.

"I want them {the players} to know that when I come here that they are the star of the show," MacPherson told a news conference at Foxboro Stadium.

Patriots chief executive officer Sam Jankovich, who refused to discuss terms of the contract, said MacPherson "was the No. 1 choice, the only choice, and we moved as rapidly as we could."

MacPherson is 60, just two years younger than Rust and three years older than Berry. But he is much quicker with the quip and livelier on the sideline.

"It's a young man's game no matter what your age is," MacPherson said, adding that he was so involved coaching Syracuse that he wasn't very familiar with the NFL.

He formally served as an assistant with the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns.

When asked why he would want to take over such a bad team, MacPherson said, "I just feel it's a great job. There's a task here that excites me very much."

In 17 seasons as a college coach, seven at Massachusetts and 10 at Syracuse, his record was 111-73-5. The Orangemen were 7-4-2 this season and won the Aloha Bowl.