Oklahoma State's Miles also a candidate

Originally Published: December 31, 2004
ESPN.com news services

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Louisville coach Bobby Petrino told ESPN's Jill Arrington before kickoff Friday at the Liberty Bowl that while he has talked with LSU about its coaching vacancy, he has not received an offer.

The update confirms little has changed since Petrino acknowledged Tuesday he has met with LSU officials.

"There's no offer on the table," he said then.

The search for a successor to Nick Saban took an unusual twist Friday when ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli learned that LSU officials, in Jacksonville for what they believed was an interview with Jack Del Rio, returned home without meeting the Jacksonville Jaguars coach.

It is unclear if Del Rio had originally agreed to the interview and reneged -- possibly after further considering his contractual situation with the Jaguars -- or if LSU officials misunderstood his intentions.

What is clear, however, sources close to both sides say, is that an interview did not occur.

The LSU job opened when Saban announced last week that he was taking the Miami Dolphins job. ESPN.com's Pat Forde reported that the other candidates for the position include Oklahoma State coach Les Miles and that LSU athletic director Skip Bertman will decide soon whether he will expand the candidate pool. Earlier this week Arkansas coach Houston Nutt pulled his name out of the running.

Del Rio is supposed to be among other candidates, as is interim Cleveland Browns coach Terry Robiskie.

Petrino on Tuesday called his talk with LSU a "preliminary meeting."

"We agreed my focus would go to the bowl game and to finish the season -- the great season that we've had," Petrino said after practice Tuesday at the University of Memphis.

He said LSU officials sought permission from Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich to talk with him.

"They asked for a quick meeting, and with Tom's permission I agreed to meet with them," Petrino said.

The Tigers hoped to find a new coach to step into recruiting when it reopens on Jan. 3, perhaps even hiring someone before the Tigers (No. 11, No. 12) face Iowa (No. 13, No. 11) in the Capital One Bowl on Saturday. Bertman is en route to Orlando for Saturday's game, and it is not clear whether he will take action away from Baton Rouge.

Six days ago, Petrino received a raise from $550,000 to $1 million a season guaranteed, with more than $860,000 also possible in incentives. When his new contract was announced, he dismissed inquiries about the LSU position and noted his fondness for Louisville. Louisville moves from Conference USA to the Big East next season.

"This is the place I want to be," he said then. "This is the place my family wants to be."

The Cardinals beat Boise State 44-40 in the Liberty Bowl on Friday.

Bertman has not commented and LSU athletic department spokesman Herb Vincent said the school does not wish to comment on the specifics of the search process.

Miles, who is in his fourth year with the Cowboys and the first season of a seven-year, $10 million contract extension, quickly cut off LSU-related questions when asked about the job by reporters in San Antonio. Miles' Cowboys were beaten 33-7 by Ohio State in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday.

"I am preparing to play in a bowl game," said Miles earlier this week. "I want no distractions for my football team. I'm not looking around."

Robiskie, 50, a Louisiana native and LSU alum, said his first choice would be to become the Browns' coach on more than an interim basis.

"My wish and desire is to be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns," Robiskie said. "If it is two weeks or two months down the road and that didn't happen, I would have a lot of interest in the LSU job. Of course, I know that the LSU job won't be open for two months. If LSU somehow showed that they have an interest in Terry Robiskie and they called, I would be more than happy to talk with them and I would love to hear what they have to say."

Del Rio, 41, also told reporters in Jacksonville on Monday that he did not want to get into any LSU coaching rumors. The former Saints linebacker and assistant coach met his wife in New Orleans and has a stepdaughter who recently graduated from LSU.

Saban had the nation's richest college football contract, a seven-year, $18.45 million deal he signed after winning a share of the national title in 2003. The school is completing a stadium expansion and a new football operations center.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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