Sunday, January 14, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If Chan Gailey were to pull an upset and become the next Steelers head coach, he will have been Bill Cowher's handpicked successor.
Gailey, the head coach at Georgia Tech and an offensive assistant with the Steelers under Cowher in the 1990s, interviewed for three hours yesterday morning at the team's UPMC facility on the South Side. He was the fifth candidate interviewed for the job and the only one to get Cowher's stamp of approval.
There could be a sixth candidate because the Steelers have received permission from the Houston Texans to talk to Mike Sherman, a former Green Bay Packers coach and currently the assistant head coach/offense for the Texans. The Steelers have not scheduled an interview with Sherman, who has had two interviews for the head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals.
Gailey, 55, was not among those scheduled for interviews until Cowher recommended him to Dan and Art Rooney the past week. When asked who he would hire for the job, Cowher gave them Gailey's name. They called Gailey on Wednesday and the interview was then set up.
Two of Cowher's offensive coaches have been considered the top candidates for the job -- Russ Grimm, the assistant head coach and line coach, and coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Both also are candidates in Arizona, where Whisenhunt had a second interview Friday. He stayed an extra day yesterday at the Cardinals' request but no known offer was made to him.
Whisenhunt and Gailey also are among 12 candidates for the Miami Dolphins' job.
"I'm not trying to convince them of how to handle other people," Gailey said of other candidates. "I was talking about my situation and how I might fit into their organization. Those things are for a later date."
Two others interviewed with the Steelers the past week -- defensive coordinators Ron Rivera of the Bears and Mike Tomlin of the Vikings.
Gailey said he did not know if Cowher recommended him or not.
"I did talk to Bill Cowher. I talk to Bill Cowher a lot. But what he said, I do not know."
Gailey was a wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator with the Steelers from 1994-97 before the Dallas Cowboys hired him as head coach in 1998. He coached the Cowboys to playoffs in both of his seasons as their coach, but was fired after an 18-14 record and losses in their first playoff game each year. He later became the Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator under Dave Wannstedt before Georgia Tech hired him.
"It went fine," Gailey said of his interview with the Rooneys and Kevin Colbert, the team's football operations director. "It's a great opportunity, this is such a great organization, has been through the years and will continue to be so. I just feel fortunate to be up here and be part of the process. It was a good day.
"I think it was a comfortable situation. I don't think I try to sell. I explain who I am and what I believe. They know a little bit about me. And then we talk about what direction we want to go in the future. That was the biggest discussion -- what direction are we headed. I thought we were on the same page in many respects."
They also talked about the current coaching staff, all of whom are under contract through at least 2007. A new head coach other than Whisenhunt or Grimm might not want to keep that staff intact.
"I think that's a question for them," Gailey said of Steelers management. "We did talk about that but I don't think that's my position to answer that at this point."
Cowher hired Gailey as receivers coach in 1994 to help develop the Steelers' passing game under coordinator Ron Erhardt. Erhardt's contract was not renewed after the 1995 season and Gailey was promoted to coordinator.
Gailey says he does not have one particular philosophy on offense.
"You just adjust and try to put your players in a position to be successful. That's my theory. I don't have a name for the offense or an offensive philosophy other than being physical, being able to run the football and then put your players in position to be successful."