1-10-03, 4:10 a.m.
1-10-03, 8:50 a.m.. Updated:
1-10-03, 4:20 p.m. Updated:
1-10-03, 11:30 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Defensive line coach Tim Krumrie, one of the most popular athletes ever in Cincinnati, is no longer a Bengal in what is perhaps the first sign that the new head coach is getting his say on the coaching staff.
Krumrie, who has spent all 20 of his NFL seasons with the Bengals, signed Friday in Buffalo after finishing his interview with Bills head coach Gregg Williams and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray. He replaces the retiring John Levra for a defense looking to upgrade against the run after finishing 29th against the rush in the NFL this season.
Krumrie, 42, has been one of Bengals President Mike Brown's favorites down through the years. But he gave permission for Krumrie to talk to Buffalo even though he was under contract for the 2003 season.
"He was one of our great players and a fine coach," Brown said. "He always gives everything he has and we wish him well."
Part of any interview process for a head coaching candidate includes discussion about assistants, so Krumrie's departure could indicate the leading contenders have someone else in mind to coach the line.
For instance, the Bills have also expressed an interest in offensive line coach Paul Alexander, an Upstate New York native from Rochester. But it's believed he also has a contract for '03 and indications are the Bengals didn't give him permission to talk because at least one of the candidates is interested in retaining him.
Krumrie could end up reunited with former Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau,
since the Bills are looking at LeBeau as anything from a consultant to assistant head coach. Krumrie has either played or coached for LeBeau for 14 seasons.
"We need toughness and intensity to make us a better team," said Bills President Tom Donahoe said. "He looks like we could suit him up."
Krumrie, who still works out three times a day in the offseason, never missed a game in a career spanning 1983 to 1994. His unit suffered injuries to starters Oliver Gibson and Vaughn Booker that took them out of most of the games last season after a year the line had 28 of a franchise-record 48 sacks and helped the Bengals allow the 10th-best yards per rush attempt in the league.
Krumrie became a folk hero as the nose tackle during the glory days when he went from a 10th-round pick in 1983 out of Wisconsin to a two-time Pro Bowler with intense sideline-to-sideline play that yielded five team tackling titles. Back in those days Brown once gave the legendary quote, "It wouldn't matter if you put Timmy out there with 10 nuns on his side. He'd still be playing just as hard, and be just as confident he was going to win."
He added to his legend when, at the peak of his game, he suffered a frightening broken leg in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXIII that was thought to be virtually career-ending. But he returned to start the 1989 season opener.
After Krumrie seemingly rode off into the sunset following his 1994 retirement (after his last game he rode around Riverfront Stadium on the motorcycle the club gave him), he returned to become an assistant line coach in 1995 before becoming the line coach in 1996.
With Gibson tearing his Achilles' Nov. 10 in Baltimore and Booker looking at possible retirement, the Bengals are exploring the possibility of taking a defensive lineman with the first pick in the draft.
MOOSHAGIAN WAITS: ** Bengals wide receivers coach Steve Mooshagian could be the third assistant coach to leave after finishing his two-day interview for the head coaching job at Division I-AA Sacramento State of the Big Sky Conference.
With Mooshagian unsure if the next Bengals' head coach will keep him on, he said it will probably come down to timing. He expects to hear from Sac State early next week, which is when he could be sitting down for an interview with the new Bengals coach at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
"Both are positive situations to me, so it would probably come down to which
one came through first," said Mooshagian Friday night from his native California. "This is an attractive job because it's in California and it would make me a head coach on every level except the NFL. If the new coach would have me back, that would be a good situation, too, in Cincinnati.."
Mooshagian, 43, is in the running at Sac State with Panthers running backs coach Jim Skipper, a former head coach in the XFL and a former assistant head coach in the NFL. After the interview that included a meeting with players, Mooshagian said he realized it's a more attractive job than he first thought because of his say in bringing in his own staff, a full complement of 63 scholarships, and nine of 11 starters returning on an offense that went 5-7 last year in what some consider the top Division I-AA league in the nation.
But Mooshagian is coming off the best of his four seasons with the Bengals as second-year player Chad Johnson became the club's first 1,000-yard receiver since 1999 in leading the franchise's first ever 40-catch receiver quartet that also included Peter Warrick, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Ron Dugans.