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Rumor: Tony Dungy pushing Arizona State to hire Lions DC Teryl Austin

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Could this finally be the year Teryl Austin finds himself a head coaching job?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, it appears the Detroit Lions could be in danger of losing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to a head coaching job. Although in the past several years, it had been NFL teams seeking interviews with Austin, he appears to be a serious candidate among the college ranks this year.

According to a report from USA Today’s Dan Wolken, Austin is one of a few candidates to replace Todd Graham, who was fired from Arizona State on Sunday.

But the rumors go deeper than that. According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports radio station 98.7, former NFL coach Tony Dungy is trying to get Arizona State to hire Austin:

While Dungy doesn’t have any direct experience working with Austin, he has worked very closely with Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. The two worked together for seven years with the Indianapolis Colts, and Caldwell became Dungy’s head coach successor when Dungy retired after the 2008 season.

As of now, there has been no indication whether Austin has any interest in the job or what the timeline would look like if Austin were to accept. Arizona State is bowl eligible, so they’d likely want to get their new coach in there as soon as possible.

On Monday, Caldwell refused to answer any questions regarding Austin’s head coaching opportunities. “We’re focusing in on this next game. He’s here right now and he’s working,” Caldwell said.

It’s hard to know how seriously to take these rumors at this point in the season. Detroit is in the midst of a playoff race, and it’s hard to imagine Austin jumping ship in the middle of that, especially considering the Lions’ current struggles on defense. That being said, the Lions have some talented position coaches, including defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and defensive backs coach Tony Oden, that could potentially take over in an interim role should Austin take the job.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.