Forget any Pep talk for now about the Oakland Raiders’ head coaching vacancy.
Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton had his answer ready when the inevitable question was posed Thursday about the Raiders requesting permission to interview him for the job.
“Our total focus is just to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Bengals and that’s what we’re doing,” Hamilton said, when the first question asked was about the Raiders’ interest.
Reporters teased him about saying nothing, which was expected. He smiled, then after a pause, started the line of questioning about Sunday’s Colts-Bengals AFC Wild Card playoff game with, “Alright, here we go.”
When the subject was broached again later in the context of is it nice to be wanted by another team, Hamilton said without hesitation, “It feels great to have an opportunity to be one of the few teams that have a chance to compete in these playoffs. I think it’s a great opportunity for our football team to continue to pursue our ultimate goal and that’s what we’re looking to do on Sunday.”
Reporters chuckled at the second attempt to get Hamilton to acknowledge the subject. When he was asked how long he took to decide how he was going to answer, he looked at his media relations colleagues, laughed and said, “You know … Alright, that’s it? Alright, thank you,” and quickly departed.
A day earlier, head coach Chuck Pagano quickly dismissed one question with, “Really I’d just like to stick with our focus and that’s Cincinnati.”
But tight end Coby Fleener had some fun with it.
“I think the official announcement will be on my Twitter,” Fleener said. “It’s @Coby, so if you guys all follow, that would be great.”
“I think Pep would be an awesome head coach, whether it’s in Oakland or a different club,” he said. “That said, yeah, it would be a tough loss. It’s an offense that I know and like very much. It’s an offense that Andrew (Luck) is very comfortable with, so it would definitely be a tough loss for the Colts. There’s no doubt about that.”
When asked a follow-up question about how it would be bittersweet if Hamilton departed, Fleener stayed serious.
“Well yeah, selfishly I’d love for him to be my coordinator for the rest of my career, but I understand that guys have to do what’s best for the family and make decisions that don’t necessarily look at my point of view,” he said. “I would be very happy for Pep (Hamilton) if he got the head job, but at the same time, it’d be tough to learn a new offense.”
Hamilton, 40, is in his second season with the Colts and ninth in the NFL. He’s also coached Chicago Bears quarterbacks from 2007 to 2009, San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks in 2006, the New York Jets’ wide receivers in 2005 and Jets’ quarterbacks in 2004 and was the Jets’ offensive quality control coach in 2003.
Luck kept his answer brief when asked about Hamilton a while later on Wednesday.
“I think he’s sharp. He’s smart. I think he’s a great football mind,” said the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback. “I think he builds great relationships with players. I feel like he’s always had my back. Anytime you have a great coach like that, those rumblings are deserved. He’s a great coach.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.