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Tuesday, December 9, 2003
Updated: December 12, 1:59 PM ET
Ross hasn't coached since 2000

Associated Press

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Army is counting on Bobby Ross and his record of success to turn around college football's worst team.

Ross was hired to lead Army on Tuesday, returning to football after resigning as the Detroit Lions' coach three years ago. His football experience is vast: Ross coached the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl in 1995 and won a national title at Georgia Tech in 1990.

Army, meanwhile, is in disarray. It became the first team in NCAA history to finish 0-13 after losing to Navy 34-6 on Saturday. The academy fired coach Todd Berry in October with the team 5-35 in his four seasons. John Mumford acted as interim coach, going 0-7 after replacing Berry.

Ross said his past service in the Army and his sons' military background -- one graduated from the Naval Academy, another from the Air Force Academy -- made him a good fit for the job.

"I believe I understand the mission of West Point. I do. I believe in it strongly," Ross said at a news conference.

Ross noted that his father had an appointment to West Point during the Depression but had to pass it up to work.

"I believe I'm going to have the opportunity to fulfill my father's dream," he said.

Army would not disclose terms of the contract.

Ross said he met with players Tuesday, and is looking forward to seeing what they can do on the field. He also hopes to finalize a staff by January.

"Our commitment begins now. Right now," Ross said.

Ross, who turns 67 this month, hasn't coached since 2000, when he quit the Lions after nine games. His Chargers lost their only Super Bowl appearance, 49-26 to the San Francisco 49ers. His NFL record was 77-68.

Ross, a Virginia Military Institute graduate, spent 15 years as a college coach, including stints with The Citadel (1973-77), Maryland (1982-86) and Georgia Tech (1987-91). His national champion Georgia Tech team went 11-0-1, sharing the title with Colorado. His college record was 94-76-2.

Army superintendent William Lennox Jr. said the academy is confident Ross can restore its winning tradition.

Ross was hired after former Nebraska coach Frank Solich turned down the job. The announcement came days after Ted Roof was hired over Ross for the top job at Duke.

Ross said he made the decision to come out of retirement before Army called because coaching was still in his blood.

"You get tired of walking the dog and things of that nature," he said. "... I've got a lot of energy."