The new man in charge

Jim Bates was planning on going fishing Friday, but that all changed very quickly when he suddenly became the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Sure, he's only got the job on an interim basis, but for a 15-year NFL assistant this nonetheless represents quite an opportunity.

"I hate personally to have to take it the way it happened," said Bates, a friend of Coach Dave Wannstedt, the man he replaced. "But I'm going to jump all over the opportunity. I'll provide the team with leadership and coach with a great deal of passion."

That's the one thing about Bates. The man sure is passionate about his work.

That was evident by the testimonials given Tuesday by Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas and Sam madison.

"Bates is a great motivator," Thomas said. "He comes from the heart. He's definitely going to be giving us a little spark and a little change-up.

"I just hope he's going to be here for a long time. I told him I would follow him around if he ever left here."

Bates said Tuesday it was too early to determine whether he would remain defensive coordinator along with his head-coaching duties, and it also was too early to discuss changes he might make.

But Bates did say there would be some changes, and tight end Randy McMichael said Bates told him he would open up the offense a little bit.

Bates joined the Dolphins as defensive coordinator in 2000 after Wannstedt replaced Jimmy Johnson as head coach.

He also has coached with the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons, along with his one stint as a head coach with the San Antonio Gunslingers of the USFL in 1985.

His son, Jeremy, is an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

"My role right now is to help this football team in any way I can," Bates said. "It isn't a personal thing.

"If something happens at the end of the season, so be it. But this isn't about me."

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