Cleveland Browns wait for Chip Kelly

TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer Published:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Win or lose, once Chip Kelly finishes coaching Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl and walks off the field and likely toward a job in the NFL, the Browns will be waiting for him

They won't be alone.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills also are interested in signing Kelly, the offensive mastermind whose break-neck, stop-us-if-you-can system is already being copied in the pro game. There could be others courting the 49-year-old Kelly, but the Browns, Eagles and Bills seem to be the leaders to land him.

It's not yet clear who will get the first crack at Kelly, who has spent the past few days in advance of Thursday night's game against Kansas State deflecting questions about his future.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have spent the past few days in Arizona, where they have already several interviews in preparation of their meeting with Kelly. On Tuesday, the Browns interviewed Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who described his meeting with the team as "fantastic."

On Wednesday, the Browns' brass met with former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, fired earlier this week after six seasons with the club. Whisenhunt was a special teams coach in Cleveland under Chris Palmer in 1999, the Browns' first season back in the league as an expansion franchise.

And according to multiple reports, the Browns also interviewed Syracuse's Doug Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien for their coaching vacancy.

However, O'Brien's agent, Joe Linta, said late Thursday night that the coach has decided to stay at Penn State. O'Brien, who previously worked as New England's offensive coordinator, steered the Nittany Lions through the horrendous Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal this season and to an 8-4 record.

"His loyalty to the team and those kids was a really strong bond," Linta said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. "Although he loves the NFL and loves coaching, the experience this year with those kids was the opportunity of a lifetime for him."

The Browns are not confirming or commenting on any interviews.

When he announced Pat Shurmur's firing earlier this week, Haslam was aware that a bidding war might lie ahead if Cleveland is to get its top choice as coach.

Although this may be his first foray into a coaching search, Haslam has hired many business executives over the years and he wasn't concerned about any competition. In fact, he seemed to relish a race.

"We're not going to worry about who else is out there looking for a coach," Haslam said. "We have our people in mind and we're going to work hard to bring the right person here to Cleveland."

Kelly's lack of any pro coaching experience doesn't seem to be scaring off the Browns. They are intrigued by his uptempo, no-huddle offense, which New England coach Bill Belichick implemented this season after meeting with Kelly during the summer.

Bears want Arians

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts want offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to stick around a little longer.

They also understand he wants to become an NFL head coach.

On Thursday, the Colts said Arians had been granted permission to speak with the Chicago Bears about their head coaching vacancy, though it's unclear when the interview will take place because Indy (11-5) will face AFC North champion Baltimore (10-6) in a wild-card round game Sunday. The winner will go to either Denver or New England in the divisional round.

Chicago might not be the only team interested. There has been speculation that the San Diego Chargers want Arians, too, though the Colts haven't confirmed whether they received an interview request from the Chargers. And with five other jobs also open, Arians could be mentioned in those cities, too.

"We do not want to lose Bruce Arians. He's just, we know what he is and we know what he means to this organization and to this football team. So let me just say that first and foremost," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Monday. "But you guys have seen him work over the last 12 weeks and you know him as a person and as a coach and I would just tell him that you're getting, or if you're interested in a guy you're getting a guy that's a great leader, a great football coach, a great man, and if that happened you'd be getting a great football coach."

The Colts' coordinators usually speak with reporters on Thursday, but Arians was not available because he was ill, a team spokesman said.

Arians has been an NFL assistant for 20 years. His only head coaching experience came during a six-year stint at Temple where he was 27-39 in the 1980s.

Reid familiar to Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs should be quite familiar by now.

The two sides spent much of Thursday in negotiations for Reid to become the Chiefs' coach, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the situation.

The discussions followed nine hours of talks Wednesday that went well enough that Reid canceled plans to interview for other openings, the person told the AP. It was unclear which details were preventing the two sides from reaching an agreement.

The Philadelphia Eagles fired Reid after 14 seasons on Monday, the same day the Chiefs parted ways with coach Romeo Crennel after the worst season in franchise history.

The search for Crennel's replacement has been led by Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, who intends to take on more responsibility in the day-to-day operation of the franchise. Also on hand was team president Mark Donovan, who has a connection to Reid after spending six seasons as the Eagles' senior vice president of business operations.

Reid had been linked to the opening in Arizona before the Chiefs put on the press.

The Cardinals now intend to interview former Chiefs coach Todd Haley, a person familiar with their plans told the AP. Haley led the Chiefs to the AFC West title in 2010, but was fired in December 2011 and spent this past season as the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh.

Cardinals to interview Hayley

TEMPE, Ariz. -- With Andy Reid no longer in the picture, the Arizona Cardinals have received permission to interview Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley for their head coaching job, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person asked not to be identified because the situation has not been made public.

Haley, former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, was offensive coordinator for Arizona in the Cardinals' Super Bowl run in the 2008 season and has a good relationship with Cardinals President Michael Bidwill.

Bidwill had identified Reid as a candidate earlier this week but the longtime Philadelphia coach, fired by the Eagles on Monday, was close to finalizing a deal to coach the Chiefs and called off all other interviews.

The other known candidates for the Arizona job are Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Shanahan looking at opportunities

ASHBURN, Va. -- Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan says he's "definitely" interested in exploring head coaching opportunities once Washington's season is over.

Shanahan could be a candidate for one or more of the seven NFL openings based on his successful season molding a creative offense around rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Shanahan said Thursday he didn't know until he read it in the media that his father -- head coach Mike Shanahan -- declared that assistants shouldn't interview while the Redskins are still playing.

Kyle Shanahan would be hard to contact anyway -- he says he doesn't have an agent and hasn't answered his phone "in about six months."

But the 33-year-old says he'd like to be considered and is "looking forward to having that opportunity after the season."

McCoy highly sought after

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Welcome to the Denver Broncos 2013 job fair.

Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has interviews for vacant head-coaching jobs set up all weekend.

If a few things fall certain ways, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio could be next on a few teams' lists.

Such is life as an assistant coach of a winning team when there are plenty of losing teams out there looking for a turnaround.

Executives from up to four teams -- Cardinals, Bills, Eagles and Bears -- could wind up in Denver this weekend to visit with McCoy for what will essentially be a get-to-know-you interview for both the coach and the interested suitors.

McCoy has become as coveted an interview as there is since "Black Monday," the day seven NFL teams fired their coaches. He can afford to be picky. Knowing as much, he says he'll be asking as many questions as he answers when the process starts.

"If you're going into a new situation, you've got to make sure it's the right one," said McCoy, who interviewed with Miami last year and was, for a time, thought to be the leading candidate there. "It's not just about taking any job."

This year, McCoy coached the fourth-ranked offense in the league, a unit that scored 30 or more points in all but five games this season. True, he had Peyton Manning on his side, which can make almost any coach look like a genius. Just as impressive were his accomplishments in 2011, when he turned Tim Tebow into a playoff quarterback, reconstructing the playbook in midseason into a 1950s-style, run-based offense that won nine games despite the league's 31st-ranked passing offense.

O'Brien staying put

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Bill O'Brien is staying at Penn State.

O'Brien's agent, Joseph Linta, said Thursday night that the Nittany Lions' head coach garnered interest from several NFL teams for vacant jobs at the next level.

But Linta said the "heartstrings" of O'Brien's experience from Penn State's 8-4 season in his first year outweighed the potentially big raise he could have received as an NFL head coach. He said O'Brien made the decision to stay at Penn State and not move forward with potential NFL opportunities Thursday.

O'Brien has been lauded for guiding Penn State to a successful season following strict NCAA sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

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