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Vermeil close to completing staff

January 25, 1997

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ There’s a distinct retro-Philadelphia feel to the staff new St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil has assembled.

Four members of the staff played for him when he coached the Eagles in the 1970s and early ’80s and several others have coached alongside him.

``I have told those guys a number of times that I’ve owed them something,″ Vermeil said Friday. ``I will always be in debt, and this is a way of paying your debt.

``But I wouldn’t pay the debt with people that can’t help us do the main thing, OK, win football games.″

Vermeil coached the Eagles from 1976-82 and linebacker coach John Bunting, the team’s new linebackers coach, played for him the entire time.

Defensive line coach Carl Hairston was an overachieving seventh-round draft pick. Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery was a sixth-rounder who ended up as the team’s career leading rusher with 6,538 yards and three 1,000-yard seasons.

Wide receiver coach Dick Coury and offensive coordinator Jerry Rhome worked with Vermeil in Philadelphia and even team psychologist Lem Burnham played for him. Vermeil hopes to announce the last three positions _ defensive coordinator, offensive line and tight ends _ in a few days.

Montgomery, 42, is Vermeil’s biggest gamble because he has no coaching experience. Vermeil assigned special teams coach Frank Gansz to tutor Montgomery and said it shouldn’t take him long to catch on.

``I told Wilbert when I left Philadelphia, if I had a major corporation he would be my vice president,″ Vermeil said. ``Nobody ever gave more to the game for me as a head coach than Wilbert.

``I never coached a superstar that worked harder on the practice field than that guy did.″

Vermeil reiterated that these are not his buddies.

``There’s a ton of guys I go hunting and fishing with and drink their good Napa Valley wine that aren’t coming,″ he said.

Illustrating his philosophy is the fact he’s retaining several coaches who worked for his predecessor, Rich Brooks.

Nick Aliotti, who coached special teams last season, will be defensive quality control coach and assist with linebackers. George Warhop will return to work with the offensive line and John Ramsdell, who had been tight end coach, will be in charge of quality control on offense and work with receivers.

Among other things, quality control coaches set up practice schedules and routines.

Vermeil said he had planned to replace all three but was too impressed with them, especially Ramsdell.

``I said, `He reminds me of Dick Vermeil 30 years ago,‴ Vermeil said. ``What a bundle of talent, what a waste to let this guy go.″

Another hire this week is Lynn Stiles as vice president of football operations. Stiles had been vice president of player personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jim L. Mora, son of the ex-Saints coach, had agreed to become secondary coach but changed his mind on Friday, Vermeil said. Vermeil gave no reason for Mora’s about-face, saying only that Mora told him he would ``go somewhere in an area where his family wants to live.″

Vermeil said it had nothing to do with Mora’s father missing out on the Rams job.

``It didn’t affect him wanting to come here for three days,″ Vermeil said. ``It’s our loss because he’s a fine young man.″

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