New Orleans Saints Coaching History—Ernie Hefferle (1975)
Ernie Hefferle was a football lifer.
He would serve as Interim head coach of the New Orleans Saints for part of the 1975 season.
He played college football at Duquesne.
He started a long coaching career in 1959 as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh on tehe college level in 1951, serving through 1958.
Hefferle then became the offensive line coach of the Washington Redskins in 1959 before taking on a head coaching position at Boston College in 1960, serving in that capacity for two seasons, posting a 7-12-1 record.
Hefferle returned to Pitt as an assistant for four seasons (1962-64).
Hefferle landed his first NFL coaching job as offensive line coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1965 under Buddy Parker.
Hefferle then went to serve as an assistant coach for the expansion Miami Dolphins from 1966-69 under George Wilson.
Hefferle returned to the Steelers for a third time in 1970 and 1971 before departing coaching, hired by John Mecom as the Director of Pro Personnel in 1972.
Hefferle served in that capacity until 1975 when Saints owner John Mecom fired John North after just six games and a 1-5 record. Hefferle would fill the void, coaching the final eight games.
In his first game as Interim head coach, Hefferle’s Saints played inspired football, whipping rival Atlanta 23-7 at the Louisiana Superdome on Nov. 2 as Mike Strachan rushed 27 times for 109 yards and a score while Larry Burton, otherwise a bust, had a huge game with four catches for 159 yards and a touchdown reception from Archie Manning. Rich Szaro added three field goals.
The Saints defense recorded three interceptions, two by Ernie Jackson and one by Bivian Lee, along with five sacks of Pat Sullivan and Kim McQuiken.
It did not go well as Hefferle and the Saints went 1-7 the rest of the way. The only win was a 23-7 victory over the Falcons on Nov. 2 at the Louisiana Superdome.
Hefferle was highly respected and he remained with the Saints, working in personnel, through 1983, working with Hank Stram, Dick Nolan and Bum Phillips under Mecom before retiring.
Hefferle loved the area and remained here after his football career ended, living in Metairie with his wife, Elsie, until he passed away in 2000.
Hefferle stepped into the void when called upon but he would not last. A big name would follow in Hank Stram.
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