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It's over

Report: Wannstedt to quit
Assistant Jim Bates is expected to take over as interim coach.
By Greg A. Bedard and Joe Schad

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

DAVIE ? In the end, Dave Wannstedt decided to control the one thing he could ? his exit.

Wannstedt ended his tumultuous tenure as head coach of the Miami Dolphins on Monday when he decided to resign after dinner with owner Wayne Huizenga, according to various media sources. Huizenga confirmed an announcement will be made today.

??Dave called me and we got together, but I?m not going to comment at this point,?? Huizenga told The Associated Press.

It is believed that defensive coordinator Jim Bates will be announced as the fifth coach in franchise history today, when he will take over on an interim basis for the rest of the season. In the meantime, the Dolphins are sure to formulate a list for what will be the first coaching search since the franchise's inaugural season in 1966.

A team source said members of the organization had been told to report to the Dolphins' training facility early today. Team spokesman Harvey Greene would not confirm or deny the report.

Wannstedt resigned in the midst of the worst season in franchise history. The Dolphins are an NFL-worst 1-8 going into a bye week and are coming off an emotional 24-23 loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Pro Player Stadium.

Wannstedt, who compiled a 42-31 record with the Dolphins, seemed to let a season's worth of frustration seep out after the disheartening loss. His eyes were moist. The emotion looked to be sapped from his face.

He said he was referring to only that game, but the words seemed to speak volumes for a season gone horribly wrong.

"I am worn out right now, to be honest with you," Wannstedt said, looking down at the lectern. "Just drained from the game and putting everything we have into the game. It?s never been as hard to win a game. Everyone talks about how hard it is to win in the NFL … You go four years and win over 10 games a year and it?s taken for granted. We did not play any harder when we were winning 10 and 11 a year, I promise you that. We did not play harder than we did today. That?s what rips your heart out. It?s tough."

As speculation swirled about Wannstedt's immediate future, many of his players came to his aid inside the locker room.

"I don't think Dave has been on the side where he gets more credit than he deserves," defensive end Jason Taylor said. "It's a very difficult position that Dave's in, we all understand that.

"People need to understand what's happened this season and what's going on is not Dave's fault. I understand it's the nature of the position, but this is not Dave's fault."

The Dolphins, after missing the playoffs each of the past three seasons, saw an unbelievable amount of misfortune sweep the franchise this season.

After Wannstedt was surprisingly brought back for his fifth season, former star quarterback Dan Marino took the job as vice president, and then resigned just a week later.

Just one week before the start of training camp, star running back Ricky Williams told Wannstedt in a phone call that Williams intended to retire. Williams has said his heart wasn't in it, but ultimately it was learned that he had failed three drug tests and felt he was underpaid.

Once the pads were put on, Wannstedt's and the Dolphins' luck didn't change as they were hit by several injuries.a rash of injuries swept Davie. David Boston, Chris Akins and Shawn Wooden all were hurt during training camp. Starters Tim Bowens, Larry Chester and Junior Seau were lost during the season. Even a player the Dolphins traded for, running back Lamar Gordon, saw just one game of action before being shelved for the season.

But in the end, Wannstedt didn't find himself without a job because of bad luck or injury problems. Ultimately Wannstedt the general manager let down Wannstedt the coach.

A string of failed draft picks and free-agent moves led Huizenga to strip Wannstedt of his personnel duties this past off-season, and to name Rick Spielman as general manager.

But Wannstedt struggled in his coaching duties as well, as the Dolphins finished one game out of the post-season each of the past two seasons. His teams often started the season well, only to fall out of contention late.

Bates? last head-coaching experience came in 1985 with the Houston Gunslingers of the defunct-USFL. He was assistant head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 1998 and ?99 ? the same position Wannstedt held on his way to becoming coach of the Dolphins. Bates is in his fifth season with Miami.

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