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Bills' coaching search already more encouraging than their last

By Tim Graham

Barely 24 hours old, this Buffalo Bills coaching search feels significantly different than the previous one.

As you'll recall, when the Bills fired Dick Jauron with seven games left in the 2009 season, prospective candidates treated the opening like plutonium.

The Bills had trouble selling themselves to prospective candidates. They courted the likes of Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden with no success.

The Bills approached Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm, but serious talks never materialized.

Brian Schottenheimer, the New York Jets offensive coordinator at the time, declined the chance to interview and chose to keep working with Mark Sanchez. Yes, that Mark Sanchez.

Bills interim coach Perry Fewell interviewed for the permanent gig but took the New York Giants defensive coordinator job before the Bills filled their post.

This time, however, candidates seem much more willing to hear what the Bills have to say.

Perhaps the NFL community knew how the winds were blowing at One Bills Drive for a few weeks already, with word getting out that owner Ralph Wilson would relinquish his presidency and total control of football operations to CEO Russ Brandon.

Maybe that alone perked up the pool of prospective Chan Gailey replacements.

A source in Arizona told The Buffalo News that Grimm will interview with the Bills this time. So will former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and current defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

The vibe is encouraging enough that if I learned the Bills also were going to interview hot college candidate Chip Kelly -- his Oregon Ducks are in suburban Phoenix to play in the Fiesta Bowl -- I wouldn't be surprised.

A league source close to Lovie Smith told me the former Chicago Bears coach would like a chance to interview for the Bills vacancy.

Smith will have suitors. He took Chicago to the Super Bowl six years ago. He went 81-63 in nine years there.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |