Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz briefly addressed the NFL question after Tuesday’s final Outback Bowl practice.
He was asked if he had been contacted by the Cleveland Browns. On Monday, the Browns fired general manager Phil Savage, a Ferentz friend from the Baltimore Ravens days, and head coach Romeo Crennel after a 4-12 season.
The reason for the Cleveland question is Scott Pioli, the Patriots’ vice president of player personnel. Browns owner Randy Lerner has been granted permission to interview the 43-year-old Pioli, also a Ferentz friend. Ferentz coached under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick at Cleveland. Ferentz’s son, Brian, worked in personnel with the New England organization this season.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen threw Ferentz’s name out there for the Browns’ job Monday night. Ferentz said Tuesday nothing is up.
“Not that I know of,” Ferentz said when asked if he’s been contacted by the Browns. “I don’t expect it.”
Ferentz was then asked if any NFL teams had been in contact. As of early Tuesday, the Browns, Lions and Jets were in search of a head coach.
“I’ve made a habit of not commenting on that,” Ferentz said. “I’ve got a great job. I’m happy to have a great job. I’m appreciative of having a great job. I’ve been at Iowa 10 years, so there’s not much else to say about that topic.”
Ferentz, 53, received a one-year contract extension in February. He’ll make in the $3 million range through 2012. Ferentz’s son, James, is taking a redshirt and will be a redshirt freshman offensive lineman for the Hawkeyes next fall.
Boston Herald columnist Ron Borges cited an NFL source familiar with Cleveland’s pursuit of Pioli that said Ferentz would be Pioli’s first choice for head coach in Cleveland. His Tuesday column also said Pioli would be given “the funds necessary” to land Ferentz.
ESPN’s Michael Smith said on the network Tuesday that Ferentz was Cleveland’s “primary target.” The Associated Press reported that the Browns are interviewing former Jets coach Eric Mangini. The AP listed these candidates, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.