PONTIAC, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions, running out of candidates and time, Wednesday named Arizona State coach Darryl Rogers director of football operations and head coach -- the same titles held by predecessor Monte Clark.
Terms of the pact were not disclosed but it was believed Rogers got a contract of 3-5 years.
'We're pleased to announce that Darryl Rogers has been hired as the head coach of the Detroit Lions,' club Vice President and General Manager Russ Thomas said in a statement released by the Lions. 'He will have the title of director of football operations and head coach of the club.'
A Detroit spokesman said Thomas was out of town at an undisclosed location. A secretary for Rogers in Phoenix said he was 'too busy' to comment. Rogers still was at the school Wednesday, finishing up his recruiting responsibilities because national letter of intent day is only a week away.
'We had hoped that he could wait until the college recruiting was over,' Thomas said. 'It did leak, however, and we decided to go ahead with the announcement.
'Darryl is still going to work with the university and help them in the recruiting program. At a later date, probably next week, we will announce further plans as to a press conference in Detroit.'
It is a homecoming of sorts for Rogers, 49, who spent 1976-79 at Michigan State where he compiled a 24-18-2 record and tied Michigan for the Big Ten championship in 1978.
The 20-year veteran of college coaching spent the last five seasons at Arizona State, where he was 6-4-1 and 5-6 the last two seasons but 37-17-1 overall. His career record is 129-84-7.
Clark was fired Dec. 19 with three years left on his contract after seven seasons as the Lions' coach -- the last a 4-11-1 mark in a year Detroit was expected to at least match the 9-7 record that earned the club the 1983 NFC Central Division title, its first championship of any kind since 1957.
The circumstances surrounding Rogers' return were remarkably similar to those that marked his departure from Michigan State in 1980 and left some officials and fans embittered. Rogers denied he was leaving right up until the day he succeeded Frank Kush at Arizona State.
Rogers told newsmen Tuesday in Phoenix, where he returned briefly from a recruiting trip, 'I am not a candidate' for the Detroit job and 'I have had no discussions with anybody in Detroit.'
Detroit was the last NFL team with a coaching opening and insiders noted all the good pro assistants had jobs for the 1985 campaign. The Lions were turned down by college coaches LaVell Edwards of Brigham Young, Washington's Don James, Jack Bicknell of Boston College and West Virginia's Don Nehlen. Pro coaches Bud Grant of Minnesota, Chuck Noll of Pittsburgh and Seattle's Chuck Knox also rejected feelers from the Lions.
The coach who accepted the Lions' offer is likely to raid the college ranks for his assistants, some of whom can be expected to have worked with Rogers at Michigan State and Arizona State.
Rogers has always had a pro style passing attack. He was the coach who started the current Big Ten love affair with passing offenses where it had been dominated by the Bo Schembechler-Woody Hayes style of play revolving around power running and tough defense.
He came to Michigan State from San Jose State in 1976 with Dr. Joe Kearney and left when the Spartans' athletic director went to Arizona State in 1980.
Michigan State was rescued by Rogers from a probation scarred era under Denny Stolz. The Spartans' Big Ten title in 1978 came when Detroit Tigers' outfielder Kirk Gibson was the star wide receiver.
But the cupboard was bare, due partly to three seasons of NCAA imposed recruiting sanctions, by the time Rogers left to clean up the notoriety remaining from Kush's regime. Rogers, in the midst of rebuilding Arizona State, worked on a year-to-year basis with the Sun Devils because of Arizona law.
Dislike of cold Michigan winters was a factor in Rogers' decision to leave Michigan State with three years left on his contract.