College Football: Cowher says he's not interested in State job

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2006

By Alan Robinson

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Bill Cowher is not interested in coaching alma mater North Carolina State, even though the Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers coach has only one season left on his contract.

Cowher, a former N.C. State linebacker, has seen his name mentioned prominently in speculation since Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato was fired last weekend.

Asked if he had any interest in going back to his former school, Cowher said, “No.”

“I’ve been getting a lot of contacts about it; I’ve heard about it,” Cowher said Wednesday. “But I’ve got a job here.”

Cowher and his family bought a luxury home in Raleigh, N.C., less than a year ago, adding to the rumors he might be ready to leave Pittsburgh. Cowher’s wife and youngest daughter are living in Raleigh this season, while his other two daughters are attending Princeton University.

“I’m very flattered to hear some of the things that have been coming out, but I’m not a candidate,” Cowher said. “I have a job here and my focus really is on this job right here, so you can take me off the list.”

Cowher did not suggest any possible replacements for Amato, who had a 49-37 record while leading N.C. State to five bowl games in seven seasons.

“It’s a super program and I’m sure that they’ll get a very qualified coach who’s going to walk into a good situation,” Cowher said.

While denying interest in N.C. State, Cowher has yet to clarify his status with the Steelers beyond this season. Previously, he always signed a contract extension whenever his Steelers contract had two seasons remaining.

But he did not do so last summer, despite being offered an extension by the Steelers, and he apparently won’t decide whether he will return in 2007 until after this season ends. Cowher is in his 15th season, the longest tenure with the same club by an active NFL head coach.

Cowher suggested the Steelers’ struggles haven’t left him time to worry about his coaching future. The Steelers (4-7), coming off a 27-0 loss Sunday in Baltimore, are in danger of having the worst record by a returning Super Bowl champion since the Denver Broncos went 6-10 in 1999.

“I’m the 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,” Cowher said. “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.”

Despite being an NFL assistant or head coach for 21 years, Cowher did not rule out coaching in college someday.

“I don’t know. I don’t look that far down the road, I really don’t,” he said. “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.”

Still, even if Cowher decided he wanted to coach college ball at some point, he almost certainly couldn’t command the money he makes now.

Cowher is being paid about $4.5 million by the Steelers, a figure he probably could double by retiring, sitting out a year or two and then returning to coach an NFL team willing to spend big for a proven winner. No college coach makes close to $8 million to $9 million per season.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops ($3.45 million) is believed to be the only current major college coach who is guaranteed more than $3 million per season.