ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Chan Gailey was hired by the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, getting a second chance to prove himself as an NFL coach and inheriting a team that has missed the playoffs for 10 straight years.
The team scheduled an afternoon news conference but did not say why. Three people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that Gailey would be introduced then. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had yet to announce the move.
The Buffalo News and FoxSports.com first reported on Monday that Gailey had emerged as the top candidate and was expected to be hired this week.
Gailey replaces Dick Jauron, who was fired in November. He takes over a team that finished 6-10 and becomes the Bills’ fifth coach since Hall of Famer Marv Levy retired following the 1997 season.
Gailey has spent 15 of his 38 years of coaching in the NFL. In his two years coaching the Dallas Cowboys, he went 18-14 and led the team to consecutive playoff appearances – both losses. He was dismissed after the 1999 season, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has acknowledged his mistake in firing Gailey.
Gailey has been out of football since he was fired as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator in August, two weeks before the season opener. He was entering his second season with Kansas City after a six-year stretch as Georgia Tech’s coach, during which he went 44-33 before being fired in 2007.
The Bills hit several bumps during their coaching search. They spoke with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher in an attempt to lure him out of broadcasting. The team also interviewed former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who instead chose to coach the Washington Redskins. Last week, Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer rejected the Bill’s request for an interview.
Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was considered the top candidate after interviewing two weeks ago. Frazier’s stock appeared climb even further after his defense shut down the Cowboys in Minnesota’s 34-3 win in the playoffs Sunday.
The 58-year-old Gailey fits the profile set by newly hired general manager Buddy Nix, who preferred hiring someone with head-coaching experience.
Unlike Frazier, a career assistant, Gailey has run college and pro teams, including a two-year stint as coach of the World League of American Football Birmingham Fire in 1991-92. He also coached Troy State (1983-84) and Samford (1993).
At Georgia Tech, Gailey led the Yellow Jackets to six bowl appearances, but his time there ended after a 7-5 finish and going 0-6 during against rival Georgia.
With Buffalo, Gailey’s top priority will be sparking an offense that has finished 25th or worst in yards gained in each of the past seven seasons
Finding a franchise quarterback would help, too. A combination of injuries and futility led to the Bills to go through three starters this past year. The team has not had a starting quarterback stay for more than three year since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.
Gailey would also need to warm up to Bills fans, who spent the past two weeks clamoring for the team to hire Cowher. Fans raised $1,125 to rent a billboard in Buffalo last week urging team owner Ralph Wilson to hire Cowher.
AP Sports Writer Jaime Aron in Dallas contributed to this report.