Falcons' Jackson interviews with Duke; Vols coordinator says no offer made
Jackson, 42, is the sixth candidate to meet with athletic director Joe Alleva and university officials since Nov. 26, when the school fired Ted Roof after a 1-11 record in 2007 and a 6-45 mark in five seasons.
It is believed David Cutcliffe, the assistant head coach at the University of Tennessee, is the front-runner to succeed Roof. Citing sources in the Vols program, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on its Web site early Friday that Cutcliffe is expected to accept the post.
However, Cutliffe -- who spoke at media day before the Vols' Outback Bowl matchup with Wisconsin -- said he had not been offered the job at Duke. He declined to take any questions about the vacancy, but acknowledged he interviewed for the job.
Jackson's meeting with Duke officials marked the second such interview in five years; Jackson was also a candidate in 2003, but Roof, then the interim head coach, was promoted to head coach. Jackson is close with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who recently met with Alleva, a longtime friend, to discuss potential candidates.
It is believed that Spurrier, for whom Jackson served as offensive coordinator in 2003, strongly recommended him to Duke officials.
Jackson has never been a head coach but is highly regarded in the NFL ranks. He coached for 14 seasons in the college ranks, at five schools, including Southern California. His first job in the NFL was on the Washington Redskins' staff in 2001. In addition to his stint in Washington (2001-2003), Jackson coached the Cincinnati Bengals' wide receivers (2004-2006) before joining Bobby Petrino's staff in Atlanta this season.
With the departure of Petrino earlier this week, Jackson will call the offensive plays for the Falcons for the final three games of the season. Petrino's exit, however, also leaves Jackson's future uncertain, although his solid reputation in the league likely means he will land on another NFL staff in 2008 if he doesn't get the Duke job.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.