PITTSBURGH - Depending on what's happened in the last five minutes, there are about half a dozen NFL teams looking for a head coach.
The interview process is underway, with some hot candidates visiting three or four teams to make their case for one of the openings.
One of the vacancies was in Tampa Bay, where Lovie Smith was hired to replace Greg Schiano.
But reports indicate that Smith wasn't the Buccaneers' first choice. They say that Tampa Bay sought out Bill Cowher, who has been working for CBS since he left the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2006 season.
Cowher rejected Tampa Bay, just as he's said no to other coaching opportunities.
When he left the Steelers, the assumption was he would sit out a season or two, then jump back into the competition.
It hasn't happened, and it may not happen.
Cowher has a different life now, one that still includes a strong connection to the NFL, but without the stress and 15-hour workdays that coaches endure.
He still has a seven-figure income with CBS. He has the high visibility that gives him a chance to land speaking jobs and endorsement deals.
Cowher divides his time between his home in North Carolina and a residence in Manhattan. His life away from work is much different. His wife Kaye died in 2010. His three daughters are grown and on their own.
Cowher has been in a relationship with musical artist Queen V (Veronica Stigeler) and even appears in one of her videos.
Someone who is close to him has maintained that Cowher has three criteria for any coaching job:
1. The organization has to be committed to winning, backing that with money. Obviously NFL teams are limited by the salary cap, but a team must be willing to spend for assistant coaches, support staff and scouts. That means the Cincinnati Bengals would be eliminated.
2. The organization has to give Cowher free reign with no meddling. This would obviously exclude teams owned by Jerry Jones (Dallas) and Daniel Snyder (Washington), to name two.
3. The team has to have a franchise-caliber quarterback. Clearly, this means no Cleveland Browns-type scenario.
Those restrictions eliminate a lot of NFL teams. Cowher turns 57 this spring. The guess is that he'll be fine if he never work an NFL sideline again.
Word is the Cleveland Browns will spend about $30 million to pay off the coaches who were fired on the last day of the season.
Rob Chudzinski, who was dismissed after one season as head coach, had three years left on his contract.
The Browns also spent heavily coordinators Norv Turner (offense) and Ray Horton (defense).
When the Browns settle on a new coach, he will be allowed to pick his own staff, and ownership will pay off Chudzinki's assistants.
For all the calamity that an 8-8 Steelers season causes, the Browns' situation reminds us that things could be a lot worse.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org