Charger Candidate Ross to Visit on Monday

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There is no "For Sale" sign in front of Bobby Ross' house. Yet.

But the Georgia Tech coach is coming to San Diego on Monday, and General Manager Bobby Beathard continues to court Ross as the "leading candidate" to become the Chargers' new coach.

"I want to make sure; I want them to be sure, too," Ross said Friday. "I want to go out and see the situation firsthand.

"After that, I guess it will boil down to whether I want to do it and whether San Diego wants to totally do it."

The Chargers and Jack Reale, Ross's Atlanta-based agent, have discussed contract terms, but both Beathard and Ross have indicated they have no deal at present. Beathard said he will continue to talk to other candidates on his shopping list and maintained again Friday that the Chargers will not hire a head coach before Jan. 1.

"We've talked about some things significant to the job, but I don't think we've locked in totally to everything," said Ross. "I need to look at things. It isn't a dollar-and-cent thing to me; it's the people, and the organization and where they are. It's something you can feel; something you have to feel."

Beathard and Ross have spoken extensively on the telephone in the past few days, and Ross has advised Georgia Tech Athletic Director Homer Rice of his interest in examining the Chargers' opening.

"I'm 55 years of age and I'm at point in my life if I'm going to do it (make the move to the NFL), I need to do it," Ross said. "If I don't, then I need to put it all behind me and stay in the college ranks.

"My past experiences in pro football have been very positive. But this is it for me. If I make a move now, I'm going to make it work. It's my last thrust, and I want to do it right."

Ross, who worked for four years with the Kansas City Chiefs (1978-1981), directed Georgia Tech to an 8-5 record this season, including a last-minute 18-17 Aloha Bowl victory over Stanford on Christmas day.

Ross left Maryland after rolling up a 39-19-1 in five years, and in five years at Georgia Tech, he has compiled a 31-26-1 mark, including a national championship in 1990.

Ross expressed surprise, however, at the interest the Chargers have shown in him. "I should think they'd be more interested in a big-name coach," he said.

And that's why Bobby Beathard likes Bobby Ross. Ross is a self-effacing disciplinarian, who has driven his collegiate teams to six bowl bids in the past decade.

"If his team wins, he gives all the credit to his kids," Beathard said. "If his team loses, he goes back to work to make it better."

Ross had an opportunity to become Buffalo's passing coordinator in 1987, but passed to become head coach at Georgia Tech. Before the Cleveland Browns hired Bill Belichick as coach last year, they expressed interest in Ross.

"There has to be that feeling," Ross said. "It's important to feel and experience that unity in an organization. You can't have people pulling in different directions. I'm not a person who needs a lot of power. I believe it's a team effort, and in that respect everybody has to be willing to work together from ownership right on down through the entire football program.

"So that's the purpose of coming to look at things and the caution in going slowly. I'll visit San Diego, come back here and reflect on the situation. Then we'll see what everyone wants to do."

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