Cowher not candidate for N.C. State position
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Bill Cowher might ultimately go to North Carolina, but he won't be going to North Carolina State.
He made that clear yesterday after the university's board of trustees chairman said the board would be foolish not to try to find out if the Steelers' coach were interested in returning to his alma mater to fill its vacancy.
"I'm very flattered to hear some of the things that have been coming out, but I'm not a candidate," Cowher said after practice. "I have a job here, and my focus really is on this job right here, so you can take me off the list."
Wendell Murphy, a North Carolina State booster and the board of trustees chairman, told the Fayetteville Observer this week that while he considered it a long shot that Cowher would be interested, the school should at least give him a call.
Cowher stated he was not interested in the North Carolina State job that opened when his former linebackers coach, Chuck Amato, was fired Sunday as head coach. He also said he has not been contacted by anyone about the job.
Speculation, no doubt, has increased in North Carolina because Cowher and his wife bought a house in Raleigh last year, and Kaye and their youngest daughter have moved there. Cowher, who has one more season left on his contract, has visited them at least twice in Raleigh this season.
"I'm here," Cowher said. "I'm a coach here, as much as that may disappoint some people, but I am the coach here and I want to win these last five games. I'm going to do everything in my power to do that.
"I've been here for a while and I like it. It's a good job. I don't like the way we are right now and I'm going to do everything in our power to finish this thing up strong and see where the chips fall."
Cowher said all the speculation about his possible "retirement" this season has not affected how he works.
"You can talk to the players about that. But I know it has not affected me and my approach to this game and in my communication with the football team. I've dealt with it no differently. Like you say, it's all speculation. It's something I will sit down with at the end of the year and go from there, but we're in the middle of the year and my focus, again, is on this football team and trying to win this game this Sunday."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said any speculation about Cowher has not affected the players.
"In the locker room, on this team, we don't even think about it. We totally forget about it until people bring it up and mention it and ask us questions about it. For us, we're not even thinking about that."
Cowher said he did not know if he might some day like coaching in college. He was a graduate assistant at North Carolina State briefly.
"I don't look that far down the road, I really don't. I guess those are times when you get in that reflective mode. The only thing I'm reflecting on now is that feeling we had after last Sunday's game and trying to rectify that. That's where the focus is at."
Linebacker Clark Haggans (hip) was upgraded to probable yesterday, although he did not practice. C Jeff Hartings (knee) also did not practice, although he too is probable.
Willie Reid, who has not played the past seven games because of a sprained foot, did practice and if he's healthy, he could return punts.
"When Willie gets back, I'd love to be able to put him back there," Cowher said. "We'll see how he is."
Tampa Bay's injury report: CB Will Allen (ankle), CB Juran Bolden (shin), RB Michael Pittman (hamstring/shoulder), LB Shelton Quarles (knee/ankle), TE Alex Smith (ankle) and DT Ellis Wyms (ankle) are questionable.
It's even worse
Further research by statisticians stretched the Steelers' rushing futility Sunday in Baltimore even further than previously believed.
The Steelers managed only 21 yards rushing against the Ravens. That's their lowest total since Sept. 27, 1970, when they ran for only 18 yards in a 16-13 loss at Denver.
The funeral for John Bettis, father of former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Messiah Baptist Church, 8100 W. 7 Mile Road, in Detroit. Public viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday.
In lieu of flowers, the Bettis family asks that all donations be sent to: The Bus Stops Here Foundation, c/o Johnnie Bettis Jr., Chase Bank, 28660 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI 48034, Account #: 175001679141.
Bettis, 61, died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday while driving to his home in Detroit after working out at a gym.
Safety Mike Lorello, a rookie from West Virginia University, signed to the Steelers' practice squad. He spent training camp with them and was waived Sept. 2. ... The Steelers' 49 penalties are the fewest in the NFL. Their 428 yards in penalties are fifth fewest. ... Their defense has yielded an average of 99.5 yards rushing a game. Only once since 2001 have they allowed more than 100 per game -- in '03 they gave up 108.8 per game. ... The Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard individual rusher this season and just one in their past 45 games, including playoffs (Edgerrin James with the Colts, Nov. 28, 2005).
First Published November 30, 2006 12:00 am