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Browns notebook: Jim Tressel flirts with coaching in NFL but says he has ‘not had discussions with Cleveland’

By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer

Former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel made it clear he would like to work in the NFL, but he said the Browns haven’t talked to him about their head-coaching vacancy.

“I have not had discussions with Cleveland,” Tressel said Thursday during a radio interview with 97.1 FM in Columbus. “It doesn’t mean that I don’t have any interest in the NFL or anything. I don’t want to paint that picture. But at this point in time, I have not.”

Last week, Fox Sports 1350, citing an unnamed source, reported that Tressel, who’s now the University of Akron’s executive vice president, would interview with the Browns for their head-coaching job within a couple of days. However, a source familiar with the Browns’ search told the Beacon Journal that the report about Tressel was “not true.” The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation.

Although Tressel confirmed he’s not in the mix to lead the Browns, he sounded as if he would love to coach again. He said he’s “deeply entrenched” in his job at UA, but he also couldn’t hide the excitement he’s experienced while recently watching college bowl games and the NFL playoffs.

“I think just being honest with yourself, you’d have to sit there saying, ‘Oh my gosh, wouldn’t that be fun to be a part of that?’ ” he said.

Tressel, 61, suggested a career move could be on the horizon for him. He alluded to UA President Luis Proenza’s upcoming retirement in June, adding to speculation that he could be a potential successor, in addition to possible opportunities in the football realm.

“I think I’m at the moment in my life that interestingly enough there’s a lot of things swirling around,” Tressel said. “We have an administrative change here at the University of Akron, and there are changes in my former profession going on — head coaching and obviously then it trickles down to the staff. So I think it’s going to be an interesting time here in the next few weeks, next month, and I wouldn’t count anything out.”

ESPN contributor Adam Caplan reported Wednesday that at least one NFL head-coaching candidate is considering bringing Tressel along as his offensive coordinator should he land a job. Caplan speculated Tressel could follow Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell if he becomes a head coach again. Caldwell and Tressel have a long-standing friendship.

Caldwell reportedly interviewed with the Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins, who hired former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. When Caldwell coached the Indianapolis Colts, he hired Tressel as a replay consultant in 2011.

Interview approved

The Browns have granted the Miami Dolphins permission to interview Ray Farmer for their general manager job, a league source confirmed Thursday for the Beacon Journal, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the teams involved had yet to comment.

Farmer, 39, spent this season as the Browns’ assistant general manager. Last year, he interviewed for the team’s GM position, but owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner instead chose Mike Lombardi and hired him Jan. 18. They hired Farmer to serve as Lombardi’s right-hand man March 5. first reported Thursday afternoon that the Dolphins asked and received permission to interview Farmer, citing a telephone interview with Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten, a former offensive lineman for the Browns. The alliance advocates the hiring and promotion of minority candidates in the NFL through public education and communication with team and league ownership and management.

The Dolphins severed ties with General Manager Jeff Ireland on Tuesday. Other candidates reportedly in the running to replace Ireland are Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson, New York Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross, Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel Jason Licht, Pittsburgh Steelers director of football and business administration Omar Khan and Dolphins assistant GM Brian Gaine.

If Farmer lands another job, it would be a significant blow to the Browns’ personnel department.

In a September interview with the Beacon Journal, Banner praised Farmer and called him “one of the up-and-coming stars in the NFL.”

At the NFL owners meeting in March, Haslam said, “I’ll be surprised if Ray’s not a GM in the next few years, which will be good and bad news for us.”

Before joining the Browns, Farmer spent seven seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs’ director of pro personnel. He also worked as a pro scout with the Atlanta Falcons for four years.

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Farmer in the fourth round of the 1996 draft. He played three seasons in the league before a knee injury ended his career.

Move official

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they have hired Joe Cullen as defensive line coach. Cullen spent this season with the Browns. Fox Sports reported the move Monday.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at


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