PHOENIX — After a search of almost three months, the Phoenix Cardinals have finally found a coach--Washington Redskins assistant Joe Bugel.
The NFL team scheduled a news conference today to introduce him officially as coach and would not comment on the selection ahead of time, but Bugel told Mizlou's News Sports Network that he is "looking forward to working with Mr. (Bill) Bidwill and Larry Wilson," the Cardinals' owner and general manager respectively.
"I got the job I really wanted," Bugel told Mizlou network interviewer Bill Pidto at Dulles International Airport in Washington.
WTTG-TV in Washington and KTAR Radio in Phoenix both reported Monday night that Bugel would become the 30th coach in the Cardinals' 70-year history and the franchise's sixth since 1979.
Bugel was among seven finalists for the Cardinals job, which opened when Gene Stallings was fired Nov. 20 in the middle of his fourth season.
Bugel, 49, has been a Redskins assistant for nine seasons and has 15 years of NFL experience. He started as offensive line coach for the Detroit Lions in 1975-76 and coached the Houston Oilers offensive line from 1977 to '80.
He coached at four colleges, including his alma mater, Western Kentucky, from 1964 to '68. He was also at Navy (1969-72), Iowa State (1973) and Ohio State (1974) before going to the Lions.
"If you keep your nose clean and you do the hard work, then an opportunity like this comes up," he said.
Other finalists were San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren, Rams defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur, Cal State Fresno Coach Jim Sweeney, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet (named today to coach the New York Jets), New York Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick and Cardinals interim Coach Hank Kuhlmann.
Stallings, 54, had a 23-34-1 record when fired after announcing that he would not seek renewal of his contract at the end of the season. He subsequently returned to college coaching when he signed Jan. 11 with Alabama.
Kuhlmann, in his fourth year as running backs coach, was 0-5 after replacing Stallings. The Cardinals lost their last six games to finish 5-11, the club's fifth consecutive losing season.