An....interesting choice. Anyone else have visions of Mike Shula dancing in their heads?
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons have reached agreement to hire San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora as the team's head coach, a source said Thursday night.
The Falcons will make an announcement Friday morning, said a source close to the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mora, the son of former New Orleans and Indianapolis coach Jim Mora, was a finalist for the San Francisco job last year before the 49ers hired Dennis Erickson.
Mora met with Falcons owner Arthur Blank in his Buckhead office Wednesday for the first time. He interviewed the previous week in Atlanta with Falcons general manager Rich McKay but had not yet met Blank.
Blank was at home Thursday night, but did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.
The hiring was first announced by SI.com.
Dan Reeves was fired Dec. 9 as the Falcons' coach, and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took over on an interim basis. Atlanta finished 5-11, but Phillips went 2-1
``They called and told me they weren't going to hire me, but they didn't tell me who they were going to hire,'' Phillips said from his Duluth home. ``I'm disappointed, yeah, but it's just time to move on.''
News of Mora's hiring caught quarterback Michael Vick, reached at his offseason home near Newport News, Va., by surprise.
``I hadn't heard anything about that,'' Vick said.
Mora, 42, has worked the last five years as the 49ers' defensive coordinator. He spent the 1997 and '98 seasons coaching San Francisco's secondary and held the same job with San Diego in 1986-88.
Mora's first job came with the Chargers in their pro personnel department.
Besides drawing interest from Atlanta, Mora also interviewed with the Chicago Bears, and his name was mentioned among those in line for the Oakland job.
Atlanta interviewed three defensive coordinators besides Mora -- St. Louis' Lovie Smith, New England's Romeo Crennel and Pittsburgh's Tim Lewis, whom Steelers coach Bill Cowher later fired.
Mike Mularkey of Pittsburgh was the only offensive coordinator to interview.
Blank didn't interview any college coaches, though ESPN.com reported Thursday that McKay had contacted representatives of LSU coach Nick Saban.
Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton, did not immediately return phone calls.
``In my opinion, it doesn't matter who contacts him,'' LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said. ``He's pretty much committed to staying here. With kids in junior high and a wife that's happy, he likes the situation he has. I don't think this is the time for him.''
Mora was a finalist for the 49ers' job last February and interviewed in Carolina after the Panthers fired George Seifert after the 2001 season. His San Francisco defense this year ranked 13th in yardage allowed and 21st in scoring.
The Falcons finished last in defense, allowing a franchise-record 6,108 total yards. After losing 23-16 to Philadelphia on Nov. 2, Atlanta was on pace to allow the second-highest yardage total in NFL history.
After the season ended, Blank and McKay insisted that the Falcons' problems on defense wouldn't eliminate Phillips as a candidate.
Phillips, hired in January 2002, helped the Falcons move from 30th to 19th in total yardage in his first season, and Atlanta advanced to the second round of the playoffs as its defense ranked third in takeaways, fourth in sacks and ninth in points allowed.
Everything unraveled this year, though, as the Falcons lost Vick to a broken right leg in preseason and dropped seven straight games entering a Week 10 trip to Giants Stadium.
Atlanta beat New York 27-7 to make Reeves just the sixth coach to earn 200 career victories, but the team lost its next three before Vick make his first start of the season -- a 20-14 overtime win over eventual NFC South champion Carolina.
(edited by Big Bad on 8.1.04 2253) Rob asks Dave and Ric if they want to go backstage to play Hungry Hungry Hippos and Flair and Batista immediately bail. Flair wants to be Green. Man, EVERYBODY wants to be green. Except the girl in the commercials. She wanted to be pink. That either means that the ad agency was sexist or that she was communist. Of course Hungry Hungry Hippos is a rather capitalist game isnít it? No self respecting communist would play Hungry Hungry Hippos. Except Stalin. He LOVED Hungry Hungry Hippos. God, Iíve got no clue what the hell Iím rambling about anymore.-- Matt "Excalibur05" Hocking, Raw Satire writer extraordinaire
You know, I just can't call it the "WWE." I just can't. My body's rejecting it like a bad liver transplant.-- Bill Simmons, espn.com/page2