Dick MacPherson, the coach at Syracuse the past 10 seasons and a former NFL assistant, was named today as coach of the New England Patriots, the league's worst team.

He succeeds Rod Rust, who was fired last Friday after the team went 1-15 in its only season under him.MacPherson, the Patriots third head coach in three years, brings one thing to the team that the last two coaches lacked - a demonstrative personality.

He was hired to restore something else to the franchise - a winning record.

The announcement of MacPherson's hiring came at a morning news conference after reports circulated Sunday that it was imminent.

A Syracuse assistant coach, who did not wish to be named, told The Syracuse Post-Standard that MacPherson telephoned the staff Sunday morning and told them he was taking the Patriots' job. The coach said athletic director Jake Crouthamel later phoned the coaches with the same news, the paper said.

Syracuse freshman running back Terry Richardson said he learned the news of MacPherson's impending departure from assistant coach Bob Casullo.

Crouthamel told the Providence Journal that, "If he (MacPherson) thinks that's the right move professionally, it's up to him."

Rust had a low-key manner and a low-achieving club. He had succeeded the similarly reserved Raymond Berry, who was fired after a 5-11 record in 1989.

MacPherson is 60, just two years younger than Rust and three years older than Berry. But he is much quicker with the quip and livelier on the sidelines.

In 17 seasons as a college head coach, seven at Massachusetts and 10 at Syracuse, his record is 111-73-5. The Orangemen were 7-4-2 this season and won the Aloha Bowl.