BUFFALO (WIVB) - UPDATED: Jon Gruden as the Bills new head coach? IfRalph Wilson had his way, it would have happened. Sourcestell News 4 Sports that Gruden was the Bills top choice to replaceDick Jauron.
A highly-placed Bills source confirms the team did haveback-channel conversations with someone close to Gruden. Butthe former Bucs and Raiders head coach declined the Bills interest,saying he's happy in his current role as analyst on ESPN's MondayNight Football. Our NFL sources say the team "went after himhard," but could not convince Gruden to return to coaching.
Saturday, Gruden was contacted by ESPN.com and declined commenton our report.
Our Bills source says the team will have informal conversationswith coaching candidates, but will not make any hires until afterthe season.
The team has to comply with the Rooney rule, which requires thatteam's interview minority candidates for any head coachingposition. That would be required even if the team were set onhiring a big name like Shanahan.
Monday, Gruden agreed to a contract extension with thenetwork. That has dampened some of the talk about his returnto coaching in either the NFL or college football.
As coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gruden won Super BowlXXXVII. He also coached the Oakland Raiders.
Along with reports of interest in Mike Shanahan, it appears thatthe Bills are aiming high in their coaching search. Grudenand Shanahan are two of the six Super Bowl-winning coaches that arenot currently working.
News 4 Sports reported Thursday that the Bills told Jauron thathe would be fired at the end of the seson, but gave him the chanceto remain as the head coach for the rest of the season. Hedeclined. The benefit for the Bills is that they can nowopenly pursue other coaching candidates.
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