Maryland Coach Bobby Ross denied a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he has talked twice to St. Louis Cardinals owner Bob Bidwill about coaching the National Football League team.

"That's a lie," Ross said about the report. "Everybody's connecting me to that thing, and it's inaccurate . . . I read he [Bidwill] was in town to talk to [Washington Redskins assistant coaches Richie] Petitbon and [Jerry] Rhome and if he wanted to talk to me he would have talked with me, too."

Ross agreed to a four-year contract extension with Maryland last month, but has not signed it. The Post-Dispatch quoted sources as saying Ross was waiting to see what happens with NFL jobs.

"That's totally inaccurate, that's not it at all," Ross said. "What happens is that I get all this pressure, which is unfortunate because it affects our recruiting. And that's all I've been doing . . . recruiting."

Ross said that his attorney, whom he did not identify, objected to some of the language in the original draft of the contract. Ross said the attorney has finished a revised draft and has mailed it to Ross for review before he submits it to Athletic Director Dick Dull. Dull's office said he was out of the Washington area and unavailable for comment yesterday.

Petitbon, Rhome and Dallas Cowboys assistant Gene Stallings are said to be the three leading candidates to replace Jim Hanifan, who was fired after the club's 5-11 season.

"It was a nice interview," said Petitbon, also considered a candidate for the vacant New Orleans Saints job. "I haven't talked to the Saints yet and there's no timetable on the St. Louis job. Whatever happens, happens."

Rhome was not available for comment yesterday.

Michael Menchel, a spokesman for the Cardinals, said the team would have no comment concerning the search for a new coach.