Somebody Dial 911
Viking coach Jerry Burns's announcement last week that he will retire at season's end may turn out to be the beginning of the biggest coaching turnover in NFL history. Get ready for zillions of rumors about who's going to get fired and who's going to get hired, many of which will have two former NFC East coaches, Bill Parcells (Giants) and Buddy Ryan (Eagles), as leading candidates to return to the sideline in 1992.
"Nothing has changed," says Parcells, meaning he will finish this season as an NBC analyst before deciding if and where he'll coach again. Look for him to be on some team's sideline next year—most likely the Bucs' or the Packers'.
"There are a lot of bad coaches out there, but I'm not going to take a job just because it's offered to me," says Ryan, who has spent the year on his farm near Lawrenceburg, Ky., since Philly fired him. "If someone offers me a job where I think I can win, I'll consider it."
Neither one is likely to end up as Burns's replacement in Minnesota, where the process of selecting a coach promises to be an interesting story in itself. At this time last season, Roger Headrick's only connection to pro sports was as Viking general manager Mike Lynn's neighbor in the posh Minneapolis suburb of Wayzata. Now, after his strange appointment as Viking president in January, Headrick, a former Pillsbury executive, wants this search for a new coach to be his first significant act. "It will be a way in which I will put my mark on the organization," he says. High on Headrick's list is Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross, with whom he met on Sunday while the Vikings were in Tampa to play the Bucs.
Burns's retirement was expected, but as many as eight other coaches are candidates to be replaced. Here's a rundown on the men in trouble and the gossip about their possible successors:
?Code Blue: Richard Williamson, Bucs (2-12); Dan Henning, Chargers (3-11).
Williamson will go down in Tampa Bay history as Richard the Meek. Last week the players decided they didn't want to watch films of their 33-14 loss to the Dolphins the previous Sunday. O.K., said Williamson. It's hard to believe Parcells would have done the same thing.
Henning has an impeccable reputation as an assistant coach, but he hasn't had a winning season in seven years as an NFL head man. The Chargers probably will hire a charismatic coach—perhaps Ross or Stanford's Dennis Green—to team with general manager Bobby Beathard.
?Critical Condition: Rick Venturi, Colts (1-13); John Robinson, Rams (3-11).