In what may be one of his final acts as majority owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Wayne Weaver fired head coach Jack Del Rio early Tuesday morning.
The Jaguars are 3-8 heading into a Monday night game with the San Diego Chargers, and Weaver had said at the beginning of the year that if Del Rio didn't get them into the playoffs this year, it would be his last coaching the team.
"I told Jack I appreciated the nine years that he served the organization ... but I said we deserve better. The community deserves better," Weaver said at the beginning of a noon news conference. "We've been very average over the last few years. I take responsibility for a lot of that -- making some mistakes in some personnel things."
Saying he wasn't "going to leave Jack twisting in the wind," Weaver said the timing was right to make this change because of his other big announcement Tuesday: the sale of 100 percent of the Jaguars to Pakistani-American entrepreneur Shahid Khan.
Weaver said NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell had given verbal approval to the sale, but it is also subject to the approval of the NFL owners' finance committee.
Weaver said he has known Khan for a long time and the new owner is planning to buy a home in Jacksonville and is committed to keeping the team in town.
Del Rio was the second head coach in the team's 17-year history, replacing Tom Coughlin in 2003. He finishes his Jacksonville career with a 68-70 record, last leading the Jaguars to a winning record in 2007 when the team was 11-5.
Jaguars performance under different head coaches:
|Tom Coughlin||Jack Del Rio|
When Channel 4's Jason Law caught up with Del Rio at his Atlantic Beach home at midday Tuesday, he choked up when talking about a final meeting with the players after getting the news from Weaver early in the morning.
"I told them that they need to continue to do that right things," Del Rio said. "There's something worthwhile there."
Del Rio said he was certainly aware of the speculation that he would be let go, but he remained optimistic.
"Anytime the owner makes a statement like, 'You better be in the playoffs or else,' and then you end up starting the year the way we started, it was tough," Del Rio said. "I'm disappointed that we weren't able to deliver on that desire. Certainly it was a desire of mine."
Del Rio said he had no idea the team was being sold.
"I'm a little surprised, really. Whenever I've asked Wayne directly, he's always said to me that he intends to keep the team here and be the owner."
Del Rio said it's too soon to think about what the future holds, but that Jacksonville is a great place to raise kids and he has no immediate plans to leave.
Defensive coordinator named interim coach
Weaver announced that Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker's outstanding performance this year earned him the spot as the Jaguars' interim head coach. Weaver said he promised Tucker would also have a shot at keeping the job, but promised Jaguars fans the team would "make sure we bring in someone that can build the franchise."
At a news conference one hour after Weaver announced his appointment, Tucker wished Del Rio "nothing but the very best."