HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Bruce Coslet, offensive coordinator for the high-scoring Cincinnati Bengals, was named the new head coach of the New York Jets today, ending a six-week search for a successor to Joe Walton.
The 43-year-old Coslet was not the Jets' first choice for the job. Last month, Michigan State Coach George Perles turned down the position and accepted an offer to also become athletic director at the school. Mike Holmgren, offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, also had been considered for the position, but he will remain with the Super Bowl champions.
"We looked for a strong motivator, a teacher and a disciplinarian," Dick Steinberg, the Jets general manager, said today at a news conference. "We wanted a guy who can get the most out of his players every time out and we feel that Bruce is that guy. We were looking for someone who can create a winning environment. In addition, we are getting a man with one of the most innovative minds in the business."
Coslet shrugged off being an afterthought with the Jets.
"It doesn't bother me at all," he said. "I'm the one they hired.
"One of my good friends, Lindy Infante, was a second choice (of the Green Bay Packers) after Perles, and look at him. He was the coach of the year last year."
Of the Jets, he said, "They went through a devastating year of injuries, but there's talent here."
And he said he felt he could make the most of that talent.
"I'm very experienced," Coslet said. "I feel very confident in dealing with today's players. I'm qualified and I'm ready to do the job."
Walton, the Jets coach for seven years, was fired Dec. 26, shortly after Steinberg became general manager. The Jets finished 4-12 last season and were 53-57-1 under Walton.
Coslet, a Bengals assistant coach since 1981, became offensive coordinator in 1986 and was instrumental in helping Coach Sam Wyche build the NFL's No. 1 offense during the team's Super Bowl season two years ago. Last season, the Bengals had the AFC's top offense and ranked No. 3 overall.
A former tight end and special teams player for the Bengals from 1969 to 1976, Coslet also coached tight ends and special teams for the 49ers before returning to Cincinnati.
Coslet, with no previous head coaching experience, has worked with some of the league's top offensive players, including Boomer Esiason and wide receivers Tim McGee, Eddie Brown and Cris Collinsworth.
He said he would not bring any of the other assistant coaches from Cincinnati with him, and would start interviewing candidates right away.
"I want to get my staff in place as soon as possible," Coslet said.