TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Jim Tressel has not been contacted by the Browns about their coaching vacancy.
On Thursday, he found a way to reach out to them.
Ohio State’s former coach, who remains wildly popular in his home state, told a Columbus radio station that while he has not had any discussions with the Browns “it doesn’t mean that I don’t have any interest in the NFL.”
Appearing on 97.1 FM, Tressel didn’t rule out the possibility that he could be a coaching candidate sometime soon.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting time in the next few weeks, the next month, and I wouldn’t count anything out,” said Tressel, who made the appearance to promote an autograph show.
The 61-year-old spent 10 seasons at Ohio State, where he led the Buckeyes to a national title before he was fired for failing to report violations by some players. Tressel is currently a vice president at Akron, but sounded as if he’s itching to return to coaching. He’s been watching bowl games and the NFL playoffs with keen interest.
“I don’t know if you love football how your blood couldn’t boil if you’re watching football at this time of year,” he said.
Tressel grew up in Berea, where the Browns train and have their headquarters. A report last week that he would be interviewed by the Browns, who are looking to hire their fourth coach in six years, was quickly shot down.
But as long as the Browns’ search continues, Tressel’s name will be floated as some Cleveland fans fantasize about the sweater-vested coach taking over their perennial loser.
Tressel spent one season as a consultant on Indianapolis’ coaching staff under Jim Caldwell. He enjoyed and learned from the experience.
“I had never really experienced the NFL from the inside,” he said. “I always looked at it, being from the college sector, that it was different and maybe you couldn’t have the impact on the young people like you could in college and whatnot. And really I learned that good coaches like Jim Caldwell and a lot of the folks in the league not only win games and draw Xs and Os, but they really do a good job in helping people in the early part of their lives.”
The Browns are nearing the end of the second week of their coaching search. They’ve interviewed at least four known candidates: New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo.
McDaniels removed himself from consideration on Wednesday, and a person familiar with the decision told the AP he did so because he wasn’t guaranteed he was the favorite. McDaniels went 11-17 as Denver’s coach, and he was the perceived favorite to get Cleveland’s job.
ESPN reported that the Browns will interview San Diego offensive coordinator on Saturday. Whisenhunt, who is also reportedly in the mix for the vacancies in Detroit and Tennessee, had two interviews with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner last year before they hired Rob Chudzinski.
It’s interesting Whisenhunt would agree to three interviews in the same week the Chargers are preparing to play Denver on Sunday in the AFC playoffs.
Whisenhunt, who led Arizona to a Super Bowl, was thought to have the inside track at taking over the Browns a year ago, but the team instead hired Chudzinski, who was fired following a 4-12 season.
Banner had said it was unlikely the Browns would meet with any previous candidates.
“I don’t think there will be anybody from last year’s search who will be a candidate this year,” he said on Dec. 30.
The Browns are not commenting during their search for the club’s seventh full-time coach since 1999.
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