The Buffalo Bills are calling it a search.
I'm calling it a "search."
The Bills apparently intend to interview candidates to replace Rex Ryan as head coach, but it's hard to imagine them putting forth an exhaustive, no-stone-left-unturned effort into finding his replacement.
For one, there's every indication from within One Bills Drive that they're settled on sticking with Anthony Lynn beyond the interim head coach status he has for Sunday's season-finale against the New York Jets.
For another, General Manager Doug Whaley is leading the "search" process. Presuming, as that implies and as sources within the organization maintain, he's going to remain in his job, the list of those willing to accept the conditions that go with working with him will be limited.
The biggest of those conditions is that Whaley will maintain control of assembling the 53-man roster, just as he did while Ryan and Ryan's predecessor, Doug Marrone, coached the team.
Lynn is perfectly fine with that, something Whaley already knows and a key factor in the GM having done/doing everything he can to convince Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula to give Lynn to the job.
Others won't be fine with that.
Tom Coughlin wouldn't be fine with that. At 70 years old and with two Super Bowl rings, he's not interested in returning to the sidelines simply because he misses being there and would take any opportunity offered. He would want full control of the football operation, including final say on the 53-man roster. That does not fit Whaley's agenda.
The Bills actually could have a shot at getting Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots (a.k.a. the best possible antidote to the Bills' New England curse). A source close to McDaniels said he would be interested in interviewing with the Bills, but McDaniels also would insist on overseeing the football operation and putting together the 53-man roster. Once again, that would clash with Whaley and make it a non-starter.
Jim Schwartz? The Bills' former defensive coordinator, who now serves in the same capacity with the Philadelphia Eagles and is the former head coach of the Detroit Lions, would have the same conditions. He only needed one season at One Bills Drive to recognize that leaving roster control to Whaley was unworkable.
Frank Reich? The iconic former Bills backup quarterback and current offensive coordinator with the Eagles would also have a problem giving up roster control to Whaley.
And don't even think about the biggest of big-splash possibilities: Jon Gruden.
Sure, there are going to be other interested parties, like Lynn, whose singular focus on becoming an NFL head coach would allow them to relinquish oversight in the selection of the 53-man roster to Whaley. But they won't have the same credentials as more accomplished coaches.
The Bills can call it a search, but with Whaley in the picture, it more appropriately can be called a "search."