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Casting calls

Colts to meet with potential replacements for Mora

Posted: Thursday January 17, 2002 2:46 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indianapolis Colts scheduled interviews with former Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy and New York Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, agents for the two coaches told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Joe Linta said his client, Cottrell, was expected to meet with the Colts at an undisclosed location either Wednesday night or Thursday. He was uncertain if the meeting would be in Indianapolis.

"I'm not sure which it is, tonight or tomorrow," Linta said Wednesday, while traveling in North Carolina. "It's supposed to happen sometime between tonight and tomorrow night."

Dungy has scheduled interviews in both Indianapolis and Carolina, although his agent, Ray Anderson, would not say when either meeting would occur.

The Colts need a replacement for Jim Mora, who was fired Jan. 8 after going 32-34, including 0-2 in the playoffs, in four seasons.

"What I can confirm is that we made contact with Indianapolis and Carolina today and interviews will be forthcoming," Anderson said. "We certainly appreciate getting the chance to talk to Indianapolis and Carolina."

Dungy was fired as Tampa Bay's head coach Monday night after going 54-42 and leading the Buccaneers to four playoff appearances in six years. He also guided Tampa Bay to the 1999 NFC Championship Game, where the Buccaneers lost to eventual Super Bowl champion St. Louis.

Colts president Bill Polian has said he will not comment on the coaching search. Team spokesman Craig Kelley, citing team policy, declined comment on the search Wednesday night.

Mora was fired, primarily, because he refused to fire defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and other assistants. Fangio was hired by the Houston Texans earlier this week.

Polian said he thought Fangio's system was too complex for the Colts' young defense, and both Cottrell and Dungy have reputations for building strong defenses with young players.

Dungy served as defensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1984-88 and with the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-95 before taking over at Tampa Bay.

Under Dungy, the Buccaneers produced the NFC's best defense in 1998 and 2000.

Dungy also has ties to Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore. Both of them were on the Minnesota Vikings staff in 1992-93, and Moore was offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota when Dungy was the Gophers' quarterback in the mid-1970s.

Polian has said the possible retention of some or all the offensive assistants would be among the discussion that takes place during the interview process.

"It's a very sensitive time," Anderson said. "We're going to let people proceed as they deem appropriate, and we're looking forward to meeting with them."

The Colts were granted permission to speak with Cottrell, who is still under contract to the Jets, on Monday.

Cottrell has spent 18 seasons in the NFL, 11 of those with Buffalo, including three seasons while Polian was the Bills' general manager during the 1980s.

Cottrell's second stint with the Bills was 1994-2000 and he spent his last three seasons in Buffalo as the defensive coordinator. With Cottrell in charge, the Bills ranked No. 1 in 1999 and No. 3 in 2000 before he left for New York.

"He's flattered," Linta said. "Being in control of the show somewhere is something every guy dreams of, that's why you work your rear end off for 20 years."

Linta said Cottrell also may get opportunities to interview in Carolina and San Diego, two other teams which are looking for head coaches. Cottrell's link to San Diego is general manager John Butler, who left Buffalo last season to take the Chargers job.

Linta said he expected Butler to fax a request to the Jets on Wednesday seeking permission to speak with Cottrell. He was uncertain if that had occurred.

A New York Jets spokesman could not confirm Wednesday night whether that request had been received.

Last year, Cottrell interviewed for head coaching jobs in Buffalo, where he lost out to Gregg Williams, and with the Jets, who selected Herman Edwards.

But the Indianapolis job, Linta said, may be Cottrell's most attractive option.

"I think Indianapolis is more camera ready," Linta said. "The offense is in pretty good shape and they have some good players on defense, too. They just need someone to get them playing together.

"Players love him, but players fear him, too. When he gets mad, you don't want to walk in his path."

There has been speculation the Colts also are interested in New York Giants defensive coordinator John Fox and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. But spokesmen for the Giants and Hawkeyes said neither Fox nor Ferentz has been contacted by Indianapolis.


 
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