Bettis says Cowher waiting on Giants

Bill Cowher wants to be the next head coach of the Giants.

At least, he does according to Jerome Bettis, Cowher’s former running back with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bettis said the reason Cowher hasn’t returned to coach is because he’s “holding out” for the Giants job to open up. In fact, he told Chris “Mad Dog” Russo today on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio that Cowher would have gotten the Giants’ job in 2008 if Tom Coughlin hadn’t taken the Giants on that magical, Super Bowl XLII run.

“That’s the team that he really coveted,” Bettis said. “This is where he always wanted to be. The Mara family, he’s been very close to them. … He’s known them very well and was on the inside track — before the Giants won the Super Bowl — for that job. And I think he’s holding out for that opportunity if it presents itself.”

Bettis added that he believes that Cowher “is going to be with the Giants” eventually - - possibly as soon as next year.

“He would have definitely gotten the job (after the 2007 season, if the Giants hadn’t gone on a run),” Bettis said. “And if Coughlin doesn’t get that team back in the right direction next year I think they’ll pull the plug.”

It’s all speculation of course, but it’s interesting speculation considering how Giants co-owner John Mara has seemingly put Coughlin on notice after the Giants’ miserable 8-8 season. During his angry post-season press conference, Mara said “I’m not pleased with anybody right now” and served notice by adding “I am anxious to hear from both (Coughlin) and Jerry (Reese) what we’re going to do to fix this. “

Mara added that neither his coach nor his GM are currently in danger of being fired, but he offered no guarantees for their future, which could be in doubt if the Giants suffer through another down year.

Meanwhile, the 52-year-old Cowher hasn’t coached since the end of the 2006 season, when he stepped down after 15 seasons running the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has been mentioned the last few years in connection with nearly every coaching vacancy. Most NFL observers have assumed he’s waiting for John Fox to get fired from Carolina so Cowher could take the Panthers job, which would be close to his Raleigh, N.C. home.

But Bettis obviously sees things different. Asked if he thought Cowher was going to sit out until the Giants job open, he said “That’s what he’s doing. That’s where he’s got his eyes.”

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