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Rumor: Woody an Absentee

The New York Daily News says Bill Cowher taking his name from consideration might have had to do with a lack of access to owner Woody Johnson.

Meanwhile, new details of the Jets' quick and ill-fated courtship of Cowher have come to light. He had agreed Tuesday to speak with the Jets about their vacancy, but he withdrew his name from consideration several hours later because, in part, he wasn't able to speak directly with owner Woody Johnson, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

"Bill Cowher easily could've been enticed to coach if Woody Johnson would've taken a sit-down meeting with him," the person said. "Cowher's camp was told that Woody was out of the country and couldn't have a sit-down with him."

Chances are, it wouldn't have changed the outcome, according to a person close to Cowher, but the "Where's Woody?" routine apparently was the last straw for the former Steelers coach.

Johnson is out of the country, a person familiar with the search confirmed, adding that Johnson speaks several times a day with GM Mike Tannenbaum. Cowher-to-the-Jets was a longshot from the outset - he apparently will remain a CBS studio analyst for at least another year - but face time with Johnson might have helped the Jets' chances. He never had a phone conversation with the owner.

Tannenbaum is the point man in the coaching search, although Johnson was willing to make himself available to speak with Cowher, according to a person close to the team.

Johnson didn't participate in Friday's interviews with the two in-house candidates, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive-line coach Bill Callahan. He also won't be involved in this morning's sit-down with Spagnuolo, but Johnson will review notes from the sessions and is expected to step in for the second round of interviews, when the field is narrowed.

If true, this is a pretty damning indictment of Woody Johnson. It goes without saying that the start of a coaching search is an awful time to leave the country. If Johnson cares about the team and the fans, the search should be his number one priority. Bill Cowher was the top coach on the market. He should have aggressively pursued him, not tell Cowher through other channels he could speak over the phone. Cowher had all the leverage. Johnson had to sell him on the Jets. Cowher should not have to jump through hoops to get a face to face meeting with the guy to whom he would have answered. This probably showed Cowher the amount of support and commitment he would have seen from the franchise.

Woody should not delegate any part of the coaching search. He should listen to others, mainly Tannenbaum, for input, but the decision is ultimately his. He should get as much of a feel for all of the candidates so that he can make an informed choice. This is not the time to be hands off.