Owner says Bills have spoken to Cowher

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Bills owner Ralph Wilson confirmed the team has spoken to Bill Cowher about the team's coaching vacancy. Wilson isn't sure whether the former Steelers coach is interested in the job.

"I don't know," Wilson told The Associated Press during a brief interview from his home in suburban Detroit on Friday. "You'd have to ask him."

Though Cowher has been widely speculated as being a candidate for the Bills job, Wilson was the first person to publicly say the Bills have spoken to him. Cowher, who works as an NFL analyst for CBS, has declined to discuss his future.

Wilson stressed that he could not go into much detail about the team's coaching search, but did say it was ongoing as the Bills attempt to fill the job left open after Dick Jauron was fired in November.

Declining to place a timetable on the search, Wilson said "we don't want to rush into hiring a coach just to be hiring somebody quick." He then added: "We don't want to hire a coach with a splashy name."

The Bills are one of two teams looking for a new coach after the Seattle Seahawks fired Jim Mora on Friday.

Wilson said the team has no preference in hiring someone with a defensive or offensive background.

"We want to hire a coach who wants to come to Buffalo and be a part of the community, you know what I mean?" Wilson said. "We're looking for a guy with a lot of passion."

Cowher has been regarded as a fan-favorite candidate. A group of fans have raised $1,125 to rent a billboard in Buffalo, set to go up on Monday, urging Wilson to hire Cowher.

The Bills have interviewed at least two other candidates. Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was interviewed in Minnesota on Thursday. Perry Fewell, who succeeded Jauron as the Bills interim coach, was interviewed on Monday.

The search is being led by chief executive officer Russ Brandon and new general manager Buddy Nix.

The Bills might have to put their search on hold until after this weekend's conference wild-card playoff games are over. Under NFL rules, coaches on the eight teams playing this weekend cannot be interviewed for jobs until next week regardless of whether their teams win or lose.

Wilson is eager to find a coach to turn around the fortunes of a team that went 6-10 this past season to miss the playoffs for a 10th straight year. The Bills had only one winning season last decade - a 9-7 finish in 2004 - and are on their fifth coaching search since hall of famer Marv Levy retired following the 1997 season.

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