There are still a handful of teams looking for a new head coach right now and it appears as though San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt could wind up being hired by either the Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans or Cleveland Browns as he will have had interviewed with all three teams come Saturday, according to published reports. Should Whisenhunt indeed land a head coaching job again, you have to wonder if he will again be interested in hiring Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler to be his defensive coordinator.
Butler, who apparently is under contract with the Steelers through the 2014 season, is good friends with Whisenhunt, who was of course with the Steelers several years until Mike Tomlin was hired to suceeed Bill Cowher in 2007. When Whisenhunt was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he wanted to hire Butler in 2009 to be his defensive coordinator after Clancy Pendergast was fired, but the Steelers denied Butler permission to interview for the job.
After Whisenhunt fired defensive coordinator Bill Davis in 2011, Butler was reportedly again denied permission to interview with the Cardinals and instead, Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton, whose contract had expired, was hired.
It should be noted that Butler interviewed with the Miami Dolphins for their then-open defensive coordinator position in 2010, but he reportedly turned down the job and instead signed a new two-year contract to return to Pittsburgh. After that contract expired in 2012, Butler was scheduled to interview with the Indianapolis Colts, but reportedly decided to cancel it after meeting with Steelers president Art Rooney II. The Steelers were rumored to have given Butler a big raise and another two-year contract to stay.
So, will Butler be allowed to interview with Whisenhunt if he lands a job over the course of the next few weeks? It’s hard to say, but I am willing to bet that permission will again be denied. The rule states that teams are indeed allowed block assistants under contract from interviewing with another team unless it is for a head coaching job.
We will have to see how this all plays out, but I guarantee you that Whisenhunt will at least ask for permission to interview Butler if he is indeed hired.