The Bills began their search for a new head coach in Arizona with a candidate that has prior NFL head coaching experience. Buffalobills.com has learned that the club has formally interviewed former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
The interview took place in Arizona as the Bills search team of President and CEO Russ Brandon, GM Buddy Nix, Assistant GM Doug Whaley and Senior VP of Football Administration Jim Overdorf traveled there by plane Tuesday afternoon.
Whisenhunt, 50, was just relieved of head coaching duties by the Arizona Cardinals on Monday after six seasons on the job (2007-2012). With only two losing seasons in his tenure with the Cardinals, Whisenhunt won more games (49) than any other coach in Cardinals' team history. He also led Arizona to a pair of NFC West titles and compiled a 4-2 record in the playoffs. He won an NFC championship in 2008, earning a berth in Super Bowl XXIII. Arizona fell to Pittsburgh 27-23.
Prior to his first NFL head coaching job, Whisenhunt served as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers under Bill Cowher (2004-2006) after a three-year stint as the club's tight ends coach. Whisenhunt orchestrated an offense that helped the Steelers win Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks (21-10).
It was there that Whisenhunt worked with Bills Assistant GM Doug Whaley, who had been serving as Pittsburgh's Pro Scouting Coordinator.
"We go way back. We won some Super Bowls together so I have high regard for his coaching acumen," said Whaley. "Personally I know him and we'll see what happens. I know he's got a lot of opportunities. We haven't decided. We still have to figure out what we're going to do, but I can provide some insight on how he performed when I was with him."
The Cardinals struggled offensively this past season as they used a total of four different quarterbacks. They also lost their top two running backs for the most of the 2012 season and their starting left tackle was out for the year due to injury.
The Bills were clear that their search will not be restricted to candidates with prior head coaching experience.
"The percentages of being successful is hiring a guy that's done it," said Nix. "But we're not going to limit that. We'll be open. Might be a college guy, might be a coordinator. We're just going to try and make sure we get the best guy."