Teryl Austin: Two of four head coach interviews were 'legitimate'

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin went on four interviews last season for vacant NFL coaching jobs. Two of them he believed were legitimate.

“Like a legitimate job interview,” Austin said Thursday. “Like I had a legitimate shot at the job.”

Austin, who has interviewed for several NFL head-coaching jobs over the past two offseasons, declined to name which of the interviews he believed were legitimate and which were not. The 51-year-old transformed Detroit’s defense during the past two seasons and became one of the hotter head-coaching candidates out there.

So he was asked in a follow-up whether his saying two of the job interviews were “legitimate,” meant he believed the other two were Rooney Rule interviews, which require teams hiring head coaches to interview at least one minority candidate.

Austin wouldn’t confirm or deny his thoughts.

“Take it however you want,” Austin said.

Austin believes his time as a head coach is coming, though. Perhaps his best chance came after the 2014 season, when he was clearly in the running for the job in Atlanta that went to former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn -- a job Austin said “Dan deservedly got.”

Even though he’s gone two years of interviews without landing a job, Austin said he believes eventually it will happen. He hasn’t sought out advice on how to deal with the disappointment of not landing head-coaching jobs but uses Arizona head coach Bruce Arians as a template.

Arians had to wait years before he got his head-coaching opportunity, and he’s now considered one of the better head coaches in the NFL, Austin said. He added that he’s received good feedback on his interviews and on his potential coaching staffs both seasons. He said he offered up distinguished coaching staff options in his head-coaching presentations.

But in the end, he has to be himself.

“You can offer some things in terms of the process itself, but in terms of how to make somebody pick you, you can’t do that,” Austin said. “So I’m just going to be me. I can’t go in and be Bruce [Arians], can’t go in and be [Lions coach Jim Caldwell], can’t go in and be anybody else.

“I just go in and present myself and I think myself is good enough. If the person that does the hiring doesn’t think that, then that’s OK, we just don’t mesh. There’ll be somebody at some point that thinks we mesh and that we’ll be a good match and I’ll get my chance.”

Until then, he’ll just continue to run Detroit’s defense for a third season.