Navy fires Weatherbie in midst of winless season

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Charlie Weatherbie was fired as coach of Navy on Sunday after leading the Midshipmen to a bowl victory five years ago but winning just once in the last 18 games.

Defensive coordinator Rick Lantz was appointed interim coach of the winless Midshipmen.

In six-plus seasons at the Naval Academy, Weatherbie had a record of 30-45. The team had lost 17 of its last 18 games and is 0-7 this season after Saturday's 21-20 loss at Toledo.

"This season, unsuccessful to date, has led us to the conclusion that the Midshipmen clearly need a new perspective and consequently new leadership," athletic director Chet Gladchuk said.

Weatherbie's career at Navy was highlighted in 1996, when the team went 9-3 and won the Aloha Bowl. In 1997, the team went 7-4, but has won just nine of 41 games since.

Weatherbie's contract runs through January 2006, and there has been some speculation of a buyout clause. If all five remaining years are guaranteed, Weatherbie would be due about $1 million.

"Coach Weatherbie will receive everything he is entitled to," Gladchuk told The (Annapolis) Capital.

Weatherbie said he and his family "thoroughly enjoyed" his time at Navy.

"While we weren't able to achieve more success during the past two years in terms of our won-loss record, I am extremely proud of our players' and staff's efforts on and off the field," he said.

Lantz returned to Navy this year after serving as defensive coordinator at Virginia the past 10 seasons. He will be a head coach on the college level for the first time.

Navy has had four head coaches since George Welsh left for Virginia in 1981 -- Gary Tranquil, Elliot Uzelac, George Chaump and Weatherbie. Welsh is the school's winningest coach with a career record of 55-46-1. He was the only coach in the past three decades to produce a consistent winner as Navy has had losing records in 29 of the last 38 seasons.

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