Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops did nothing to dispel a report that said he had the "inside track" for the Browns job. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)
Cleveland — The Browns might be interested in hiring a college coach.
Bob Stoops isn’t the one.
A person with direct knowledge of Cleveland’s ongoing coaching search said the Browns will not interview Oklahoma’s coach, who has deep Ohio roots.
After his team stunned Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last week, Stoops did nothing to dispel a report that said he had the “inside track” for the Browns job. But the source said team officials are not pursuing the Sooners coach, and any reports saying so are “false.”
Stoops said “you never know” when asked about the possibility of one day coaching in the NFL. His vague remarks fueled speculation about Cleveland’s vacancy. Stoops is from Youngstown and has been linked to the Browns in the past.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are in the second week of their search after firing Rob Chudzinski, who went 4-12 in his first and only season with Cleveland.
Team officials have interviewed several candidates, including New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Cleveland has also asked for permission to meet with Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who declined the chance to meet with Cleveland or Minnesota because he didn’t want to be a distraction during the Broncos playoff preparations.
“I told both teams that were interested in me that I appreciated it and I was going to wait until after our season had concluded,” Gase said. “They were great about it. They said they appreciated me being up front and honest about it, and I thought that was the best decision for what we are trying to accomplish with our team.”
If the Browns want to hire McDaniels, Quinn or Gase, they will have to wait until their teams are out of the playoffs. That could mean holding off until after the Feb. 2 Super Bowl.
McDaniels confirmed his interview with the Browns during a conference call Monday, but said his focus is on preparing for Saturday’s playoff game against the Colts.
“We met and that’s about all there is at this point, nothing further,” he said.
Cleveland reportedly is interested in speaking with Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.
Browns officials are not commenting on interviews during the search for their seventh full-time coach since 1999.
Last week, Haslam said he was not putting a timeframe on finding his second coach since buying the team in 2012. Haslam interviewed several college coaches during last year’s search, including former Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Syracuse’s Doug Marrone.
Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin are among the latest candidates for the Washington job.
Gruden said Washington was among several teams to request permission from Cincinnati officials for an interview.
Franklin is expected to interview with this week.
Others expected to draw interest from Washington include San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Wisenhunt is also expected to be pursued by the Lions.
Washington officials were scheduled to host N.Y. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell on Monday, making him the fifth known candidate to interview for the job.
... Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was fired, marking the first offseason change for a team that missed the playoffs because of a late-season collapse.
Owner Stephen Ross was expected to demand some sort of shakeup following the team’s dismal finish. Sherman joined the Dolphins when Joe Philbin was hired as head coach two years ago.
Former player charged
Former NFL and University of Florida player Donald “Reche” Caldwell was arrested by Tampa police on charges of operating an illegal gambling house and bookmaking.
Police say Caldwell was one of three leaders of the operation. Five other men are facing a variety of charges including probation violations, possession of a control substance and illegal gambling.
Caldwell, 34, was chosen in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft by San Diego. He also played for New England and Washington.
His younger brother Andre Caldwell is a Broncos receiver.