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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Change in coaches

    January 5, 1998 -- When Marv Levy retired as coach of the Buffalo Bills, there wasn't a great deal of debate about his successor. Wade Phillips was considered the obvious choice at the time. Phillips was the team's defensive coordinator under Levy, and he had previous head coaching experience.

   The announcement, then, didn't cause a great deal of conversation. It was interesting, however, that Phillips wasted little time in putting his own particular stamp on the team. He rehired five of Levy's assistants, and told six others to leave.

   Ted Cottrell was picked as the new defensive coordinator, a promotion from linebackers coach. Dan Henning was let go as the offensive coordinator. 

   "Guys that fit with Marv Levy aren't a natural fit with me, but that doesn't mean they didn't do a good job," said Phillips, the Bills' defensive coordinator for the previous three years. "I'm starting anew. This is a new era. There will be changes, and that's inevitable."

   Phillips stayed three years, getting the Bills into the playoffs twice before he was fired after an 8-8 season.

 --- Budd Bailey

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