Grimm, Smith named finalists

After being rejected by Nick Saban the Bears begin the third week of their head-coaching search by naming Russ Grimm and Lovie Smith the first two finalists for the opening.

Russ Grimm came into the mix over the weekend when it appeared evident that the chances of Nick Saban staying at LSU were good. He met with Jerry Angelo Sunday night and will get a second interview with the team Monday before meeting with the media later in the day.

Grimm has spent the past three seasons as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach. His coaching career began with a team he spent 11 years with as a player. He was the Redskins tight end coach for 5 years before moving to the offensive line for three seasons. He wasn't retained when Marty Schottenheimer became the head coach in Washington and joined Bill Cowher's staff in Pittsburgh.

The four-time Pro Bowl guard is one of 25 finalists for the NFL Hall of Fame. He played a key role on four Super Bowl appearances and three titles with the Redskins. A member of the "Hogs" he was also voted to the all-decade team of the 1980's.

Joe Gibbs had been considering offering Grimm his offensive coordinator position, but the Steelers did not grant Washington permission because he could be in line for the same spot if current coordinator Mike Mularkey is hired as the Buffalo Bills coach.

Lovie Smith interviewed with the Bears during the Rams bye week, but could not talk further until St. Louis was eliminated from the playoffs. Smith will be in Chicago Tuesday to discuss the Bears head-coaching vacancy. While his defense's performance in a 29-23 loss to Carolina wasn't impressive, the Rams forced an NFL high 46 turnovers.

The relationship between Angelo and Smith dates back to their days in Tampa Bay. When Angelo was the Bucs director of player personnel Smith learned under Tony Dungy as the linebackers coach.

The announcement of Grimm and Smith doesn't mean the two are the only candidates now being considered, but any college coaches will not be brought in front of the media because of recruiting concerns.

Romeo Crennel, who was the first to interview with the Bears, is likely out of the running because Chicago doesn't want to wait the additional time it could take for New England to be eliminated from the playoffs or win the Super Bowl.

A decision will likely come soon because Tuesday is the day that contracts for assistants expire and new coaches will begin to assemble staffs.

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