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Teryl Austin on head-coaching chances: 'If it happens, it happens'

Over the past three offseasons, Teryl Austin has interviewed with the Falcons, Titans, Browns, Giants and Chargers. Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Another coaching carousel came and went this offseason and once again Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was passed over for head coaching jobs he interviewed for.

It’s the third straight year this has happened for Austin, who is considered one of the better head-coaching prospects out there. He’s had a strong backer in his boss, Jim Caldwell, throughout all of the three processes -- and Caldwell has said he believes he should have been a head coach already.

On Tuesday, when Austin spoke publicly for the first time since the end of last season, he tried to deflect questions about another season of being rejected for head-coaching positions.

“I can’t control it,” Austin said. “If it happens, it happens. If not, I’m happy to be here. My goal is to help us win games and get ourselves into the playoffs and hopefully win some playoff games and give us a chance.

“That other stuff, I can’t control. So it doesn’t bother me.”

Over the past three offseasons, Austin has interviewed with Atlanta, Tennessee, Cleveland, the Giants and Chargers, among others. His closest chance was likely in Atlanta following the 2014 season -- a job that went to then-Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn took the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 2016.

Last offseason, Austin said he felt two of the four interviews he went on were legitimate. He wouldn’t name which interviews he felt were legit and which weren’t.

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

He also wouldn’t confirm or deny, then, if he felt the other interviews he went on were Rooney Rule interviews -- a rule that requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for every head-coaching job.

Instead of being a head coach, the 52-year-old Austin will now enter his fourth season as Detroit’s defensive coordinator.

Austin has become one of the better defensive coordinators in the NFL, putting together one of the best defenses in the league in 2014 and then piecing together good units the past two seasons after injuries took away some of his best playmakers, including former Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy.