Chan Gailey might not be the final candidate for the Steelers' head-coaching job when he talks to team officials today at their UPMC offices on the South Side.
The Steelers have made recent inquiries about former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman, and they were trying to reach him the past two days. Sherman, the assistant head coach/offense for the Houston Texans, was en route from a second interview he had in Arizona Thursday for the Cardinals' head-coaching job.
Yesterday, the Cardinals gave Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt his second interview in Arizona. He will stay in Arizona another day at the Cardinals' request to consider a possible job offer.
If the Steelers talk to Sherman, 52, he would be the sixth known candidate for the job that came open when Bill Cowher quit Jan. 5 and the second to be contacted after a first round of four interviews occurred last week.
Sherman compiled a 59-43 record as coach of the Packers from 2000-05. His teams had winning records in his first five seasons, winning three division championships and making the playoffs four times. Sherman's Packers came within an overtime loss at Philadelphia after the 2003 season of reaching the NFC championship game.
The entrance of Gailey, 55, and possibly Sherman into the mix alters the picture of what the Steelers intend to do about their most important job opening. It was long regarded as a two-horse race between Steelers assistant coaches Russ Grimm and Whisenhunt. Both men were interviewed this past week on separate days for three hours apiece, as were Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Tomlin will get a second interview in Miami.
The Steelers apparently have not dismissed any of their candidates from consideration. Thursday, Steelers president Art Rooney had a long conversation with Eagles head coach Andy Reid about Rivera, who coached under Reid with the Eagles from 1999-2003.
Grimm also was interviewed in Arizona, and Whisenhunt also interviewed with Atlanta and Miami and remains a candidate for the Dolphins' job as well as the Cardinals'.
Whisenhunt has said the Steelers' job would be his No. 1 choice -- a possible reason he was not offered the job in his hometown of Atlanta -- but Dan and Art Rooney have not given him or Grimm guarantees that either is their top choice. If the Cardinals were to make Whisenhunt an offer after his second interview, it would leave him with a difficult choice -- take the bird in hand or turn it down and gamble he will get the Steelers' job.
It could be that the Steelers are merely hedging their bets by talking to Gailey and Sherman or investigating to see if, perhaps, there isn't a better candidate outside their organization. Gailey remains a candidate in Miami and Sherman in Arizona.
Gailey is the head coach at Georgia Tech and was a wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator with the Steelers from 1994-97 before the Dallas Cowboys hired him as their head coach in 1998. He coached the Cowboys to the 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.
All Steelers assistant coaches are under contract through at least 2007. That was seen as a positive for either Grimm or Whisenhunt if either became their head coach. The Steelers, however, traditionally let their new coach hire his own staff and, if a candidate from outside is hired, he might have an entirely different view of the assistants he wants to hire.
NOTES -- Former West Virginia quarterback Rasheed Marshall is among the latest three players the Steelers have signed to 2007 contracts. The other two are defensive backs Grant Mason and Harrison Smith. Marshall, now a wide receiver, played in 12 games in 2005 with the San Francisco 49ers, returning 17 punts for a 5.1-yard average and 26 kickoffs for an 18.8-yard average. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2005.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .