McGinnis can't wait to be Titan
By JIM WYATT
HOUSTON — When Dave McGinnis
was named interim head coach
of the Arizona Cardinals in 2000, he knew his life was about to change.
Extra responsibilities, extra pressure and extra headaches were now on his plate.
The first person he called was Titans Coach Jeff Fisher, who became a head coach in a similar fashion in 1994. Fisher was named interim head coach of the Oilers with six games remaining that season.
''He gave me a little bit of guidance and advice,'' McGinnis said yesterday. ''I appreciated that very much.''
So when Fisher was left with a vacancy on his staff after Gunther Gunningham accepted the defensive coordinator's job in Kansas City two weeks ago, it's no coincidence McGinnis was at the top of his list. On Wednesday, McGinnis will arrive in town and begin working as the team's assistant head coach/linebackers after the two agreed to a deal Friday night.
McGinnis has spent the last eight seasons with the Cardinals, including the last 3˝ years as head coach. He was defensive coordinator with the Cardinals from 1996-2000.
''I am very much looking forward to coming there and just being able to contribute however I can,'' McGinnis said. ''I looked at several different options, but Jeff Fisher is someone I have always been close with and admired. I'm going to get there and hit the ground running. I can't wait to get to Nashville.''
McGinnis, 52, said he explored other options after he was fired a day after the Cardinals finished their season at 4-12. Oakland was interested in him as a defensive coordinator but wasn't ready to commit to him just yet.
But from the very beginning he said he was intrigued with the opening with the Titans. The transition from head coach to assistant head coach/linebackers worked well for Cunningham the past three seasons, and McGinnis expects it to be a good fit for him as well.
''Over and above anything else I absolutely love this league and I absolutely love working with the players in this league. I have been in the league 18 years, and to me it is about coaching football with good people,'' McGinnis said.
''They have an outstanding group of players and coaches and people throughout the Titans organization.''
McGinnis has not worked side by side with Fisher. He arrived in Chicago the year after Fisher's final days as a player with the Bears. McGinnis spent 10 seasons as linebackers coach with the Bears (1986-95), where he worked with players such as Mike Singletary, Otis Wilson and Wilber Marshall. He was part of a defensive staff in Chicago that led the NFL in fewest points allowed in 1986 (then a record-low 187).
McGinnis spent the first 13 years of his coaching career in the collegiate ranks, beginning at his alma mater, Texas Christian, as a graduate assistant. He also coached at Missouri, Indiana State and Kansas State.
McGinnis said he's very familiar with the Tennessee's starting linebackers — Keith Bulluck, Peter Sirmon and Rocky Calmus — having graded them coming out of college. He said he's admired the success of the Titans.
''We're fortunate Dave decided to join our organization,'' Fisher said. ''I feel our players will benefit from a tremendous amount of experience he brings, not only as a head coach but also defensively as a coordinator and a linebacker coach for many years. He will fit in well with our entire staff.''