George Allen said yesterday neither the New Orleans Saints nor any other National Football League team with a vacancy had contacted him about being a head coach, but "if the right situation came along, I'd love to jump back in."
The Washington Times reported yesterday that the Saints are interviewing Allen, the Redskins' former coach who retired as head coach of the Arizona Outlaws of the U.S. Football League after the 1983 season. Allen said, "That's just another rumor. They haven't contacted me. I don't think there's anything to it. This is what I get every time a job opens up. My name always gets mentioned."
Saints owner Tom Benson, who is selecting the new coach, said through a spokesman that he would make no comment on any candidates.
Allen said he told a New Orleans reporter about 10 days ago that, if asked, he would recommend Redskins assistant coach Richie Petitbon for the Saints job. The Saints have asked the Redskins for permission to interview Petitbon, and the St. Louis Cardinals, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, have asked to interview Petitbon and Redskins quarterback coach Jerry Rhome for their head-coaching vacancy.
The Associated Press reported that Petitbon left for St. Louis yesterday for an interview. The Post-Dispatch reported that Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill had narrowed his list to 10 names, including that of University of Maryland Coach Bobby Ross. A Cardinals spokesman said the team would have no comment on any candidates.
Ross still has not signed his new four-year contract with Maryland. Athletic Director Dick Dull said yesterday that Ross and his attorney were given the contract last week. Ross was not available to comment yesterday.
Allen, now chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, last coached in the National Football League in 1978, when he was fired by the Los Angeles Rams before the start of the regular season. He coached the Redskins from 1971 to 1977.
Asked yesterday if he thought he had been blackballed by the NFL, he said: "That's hard for me to say, but if that's the case, that's a shame. I suppose I'm considered hard to get along with. I push people more than they want to give.
"I know this, and I don't say this with any bragging or ego, I can turn any program around in football . . . I love coaching football, it's never been work for me . . . It bothers me to see so many teams that are down. They could win if they did the right things."
Allen said he had heard the Saints wanted to hire a general manager before naming a coach. "If that happens, a GM is not going to pick George Allen," he said. "You've got to have control; I'd have to have the authority on the field, who the assistants are, who makes the team. That's a must."