Wannstedt gone

Dave Wannstedt said Monday it was going to be business as usual for the Dolphins for the next two weeks, but that obviously changed after he told owner Wayne Huizenga he was stepping down as head coach. In a press conference on Tuesday, Wannstedt said he was resigning because he had become too much of a distraction and that the focus needed to return to the players and the team.

Defensive coordinator Jim Bates will take over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Bates' only head coaching experience came in 1985 with the San Antonion Gunslingers of the short-lived USFL.

The news of Wannstedt's resignation first broke out late Monday night and some of the players didn't find out until Tuesday night.

Wannstedt met with his players Tuesday morning and delivered to them the same message he told the media.

"We lost a good man," said Jason Taylor. "Dave is a good man. He's always been the way.

"The rest of the season we're going to continue to fight for him. He meant a lot to us."

The same feelings were echoed by Zach Thomas, Randy McMichael, Jay Fiedler and Sam Madison.

Wannstedt, who signed a contract extension through 2006, will be paid the remainder of his deal.

Team president Eddie Jones said he, Bates and Huizenga all tried to talk Wannstedt out of resigning, but that the coach's mind was made up.

Wannstedt leaves the Dolphins with a 42-31 regular season and a 1-2 mark in the playoffs. Wannstedt guided Miami to the postseason each of his first two seasons, but things started going downhill and they reached a new low this season with the 1-8 start.

"I felt that the negative attention that would surround me personally and professionally would serve as a deterrent of the ultimate goal of the football team making progress," Wannstedt said.

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