Steve Underwood to remain Titans' interim boss through 2015 season

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Steve Underwood, the longtime Oilers/Titans executive who came out of retirement in mid-March to be interim president and CEO, will stay in the post through the 2015 season, the team announced Tuesday.

Underwood returned to Nashville to manage the Titans as Tommy Smith, the son-in-law of late owner Bud Adams, stepped away after less than two years as team president and CEO.

As interim president and CEO, Underwood was charged with finding a permanent person for the role. That is now on hold until after the 2015 season.

Underwood said the hiring process never really got started, though the team got unsolicited resumes from several interesting candidates, and he hopes to revisit those when he kicks off a search early in 2016.

In the meantime, he will continue to work for a reorganized ownership group.

The team has an understanding with the league that Amy Adams Strunk, one of Bud Adams' daughters, is operating as controlling owner.

"I speak to Amy almost every day about the business affairs of the club," Underwood said in an interview with ESPN.com. "I think we're heading in a great direction moving forward."

Strunk may be interested in the role permanently though "our ownership group is still undecided about what to do on a permanent basis," he said.

Underwood reiterated in his strongest language yet that ownership is not looking to get out of the football business.

"The team is not for sale," he said. "There is not a 'For Sale' sign in our yard. We're not entertaining offers for sale. The owners are not soliciting bids for sale. People can offer up whatever speculation they want, but the people that I work for are not selling."

Underwood said the person ultimately hired to replace him needs to be a strong business person, not necessarily a football man.

"I think he needs to be someone who is not maybe as focused on football as he is on the business side of the NFL," he said. "We need someone with NFL experience, someone who understands the stadium business the media business, the entertainment business. ... It wouldn't hurt if whoever we hire knew something about football, but we need complimentary skills on the business side more than we need more people that understand football. We've already got a wealth of talent here who understand football."

Underwood will be 64 this fall and said he is enjoying being back, but he said that the organization needs a younger person in the role to be a big presence in Nashville on a permanent basis.

Bud Adams died on Oct. 21, 2013, and left the franchise to multiple members of his family.

Daughters Strunk and Susie Adams Smith, wife of Tommy Smith, each have one-third ownership. The other third is split up between Kenneth Adams IV, who works for the team with a presence in community relations, his mom, Susan Lewis, and his brother, Barclay Adams.

After Tommy Smith stepped away, citing health concerns and the strain of managing both the Titans as well as the family business in Houston, the fractured ownership group turned to Underwood.

He was outside counsel for the Houston Oilers starting in 1977 and joined the franchise as general counsel in 1991. He was a measured and reasoned confidante for Bud Adams, who sent him to Nashville in 2006.

Underwood oversaw the entire organization and reported back to Adams until he retired and returned to Texans in 2011.

The Titans have made several moves in the front office since Underwood came back to Nashville, promoting some long-term employees, revamping the ticket office after finding some inconsistencies in an internal audit and creating two new vice president roles, for communications and for facilities and game day operations.

"I think that we have sort of completed our internal reorganization," Underwood said of the work the team has done since he re-emerged.