Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he would talk to Florida about its coaching vacancy only if he were contacted by close friend and Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley.
Shanahan, whose Broncos closed the season with a 29-10 loss to Indianapolis, said Sunday he did not consider himself a candidate for the job because he hasn't been contacted by Florida.
But parties close to Shanahan told the Denver Post this weekend that he was a top candidate for the opening that has the potential to lure him away. And Denver might open the door for Shanahan -- ESPN's Len Pasquarelli reported Sunday that Broncos owner Pat Bowlen will allow the coach to talk to to Florida if they would like to contact Shanahan.
"I really don't know the speculation that's out there," Shanahan said. "I haven't read any newspapers or watched the TV."
Shanahan said he has not talked to Foley, who reportedly has offered the job to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.
"We always teased each other that if the job were open, he'd talk to me," Shanahan said. "Obviously, he's a friend of mine and I would talk to him about it. I'm very happy here. I've got a contract and I intend on keeping that contract, but that doesn't mean I won't sit down and talk with Jeremy."
Shanahan, who won two straight Super Bowls with Denver, was offensive coordinator at Florida from 1980-83. He said he maintained ties to the area.
"That's where we started off our career, Peggy (his wife) and I," he said. "We're very close to a number of people there in the university. I've got a lot of respect for Jeremy. That's the only reason that I would really sit down and talk to him. That does not mean I'm headed off to be a Florida Gator."
He also was mentioned several weeks ago as a candidate for the Notre Dame job, which since has gone to Stanford's Tyrone Willingham.
Spurrier, 122-27-1 in 12 years with one national championship, resigned Friday to pursue an NFL job.
Shanahan has three years remaining on his contract, which pays him nearly $4 million a season, making him of the NFL's three highest-paid coaches.
"If he was going to back to college, he'd probably have to take a major pay cut," linebacker Bill Romanowski said. "I don't know why he'd want to do that, but that's up to him."
Shanahan's annual salary is among the highest for head coaches. Ultimately, Shanahan could decide he has too much in Denver to give up. But Florida also has the wherewithal to put together a package attractive enough to lure him away. Florida paid Spurrier $2.1 million annually, tops in the college game, and reportedly has offered Stoops $3 million to leave Oklahoma.
Running back Terrell Davis said he would be shocked if Shanahan left.
"A lot of coaches have ambitions to go from college to the pros and not pros to college, especially when they have a team like this," he said."
High-ranking Broncos officials -- who say they believe they will be able to retain the coach that has led their franchise to its only two Super Bowl titles -- already have conducted informal discussions this weekend about the possibility of losing Shanahan after the regular-season finale.
The idea of coaching in college, moving to Gainesville, reuniting with Foley and putting in hours that would pale compared with the regular 100-hour work weeks he logs in Denver would have a certain appeal to Shanahan -- maybe as much as landing a Super Bowl-winning coach does to Florida.
Shanahan became irritated when questions about his future persisted
"Let's go. Let's talk about the Denver Broncos," he said. "I think I've addressed it enough."