Updated: Monday, 23 Nov 2009, 8:14 AM EST
Published : Friday, 20 Nov 2009, 10:28 PM EST
BUFFALO (WIVB) - UPDATED: Jon Gruden as the Bills new head coach? If Ralph Wilson had his way, it would have happened. Sources tell News 4 Sports that Gruden was the Bills top choice to replace Dick Jauron.
A highly-placed Bills source confirms the team did have back-channel conversations with someone close to Gruden. But the former Bucs and Raiders head coach declined the Bills interest, saying he's happy in his current role as analyst on ESPN's Monday Night Football. Our NFL sources say the team "went after him hard," but could not convince Gruden to return to coaching.
Saturday, Gruden was contacted by ESPN.com and declined comment on our report.
Our Bills source says the team will have informal conversations with coaching candidates, but will not make any hires until after the season.
The team has to comply with the Rooney rule, which requires that team's interview minority candidates for any head coaching position. That would be required even if the team were set on hiring a big name like Shanahan.
Monday, Gruden agreed to a contract extension with the network. That has dampened some of the talk about his return to coaching in either the NFL or college football.
As coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII. He also coached the Oakland Raiders.
Along with reports of interest in Mike Shanahan, it appears that the Bills are aiming high in their coaching search. Gruden and Shanahan are two of the six Super Bowl-winning coaches that are not currently working.
News 4 Sports reported Thursday that the Bills told Jauron that
he would be fired at the end of the seson, but gave him the chance
to remain as the head coach for the rest of the season. He
declined. The benefit for the Bills is that they can now
openly pursue other coaching candidates.