It's still possible the Browns will hire a college coach. Bob Stoops, though, isn't the one.
A person with direct knowledge of Cleveland's search told The Associated Press that the Browns will not interview Oklahoma's coach, who has deep Ohio roots.
After his Sooners stunned Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last week, Stoops did nothing to dispel a report that said he had the "inside track" for the Browns' job. But the person who spoke to the AP on Monday said the team is not pursuing him and that any reports saying so are "false." The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search.
Stoops said "you never know" when asked about the possibility of one day coaching in the NFL. His vague remarks fueled speculation about Cleveland's coaching vacancy. Stoops is from Youngstown and has been linked to the Browns in the past.
Cleveland is also reportedly interested in speaking with Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt's James Franklin.
Malzahn will be available for an interview after Monday night's BCS national title game against Florida State. He doesn't have any NFL experience and he has made it clear he's happy at the school, but that may not prevent Haslam and Banner from making a strong run at him.
The Browns were enamored with Chip Kelly during their coaching search last year, but after a short courtship, the former Oregon coach decided to sign with Philadelphia.
Franklin has one year of pro experience as Green Bay's wide receivers coach in 2005. He led the Commodores to a 9-4 season and a win over Houston in Sunday's BBVA Compass Bowl. Franklin's impressive turnaround at Vanderbilt has caught the attention of Haslam, a Tennessee alum.
Vanderbilt went 24-15 in three seasons under Franklin, who left the interview room following the win without replying when asked if he would be back at the school.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org