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Henderson in first year as Jets' D coordinator

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross has
returned to his professional roots in search of the Orange's new
football coach.

Gross, a former scout for the NFL's New York Jets, made a call
to the agent for Donnie Henderson, who's in his first year as
defensive coordinator of the Jets.

Henderson said Wednesday that he had not spoken directly to
anybody from the university but was willing to listen.

"I've got a great job right now. I'm happy where I'm at. We'll
wait and see how everything else transpires," Henderson said as he
prepared for Saturday night's playoff game at San Diego. "I think
you've always got to talk."

Henderson, who was born in Baltimore and went to high school in
Los Angeles, was with the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2003 and
worked primarily with defensive backs. He also was an assistant
coach in college at Utah State, Idaho, California, Arizona State
and Houston.

"When you get in this business, you aspire to be at the top and
run your own program," Henderson said. "If that opportunity comes
along, you've got to listen. At this particular time, I can only
assess the situation. We've had inquiries. We've just got to wait
and see how this all factors out."

Henderson stressed that he's very satisfied with his current
job.

"I couldn't ask for more from an organization," he said. "I'm
having fun."

Gross, who was hired in December to replace the retiring Jake
Crouthamel, fired former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni last week
after the Orange lost 51-14 to Georgia Tech in the Champs Sports
Bowl to complete their second straight 6-6 season.

Gross has said he wants to name his new coach as soon as
possible, and if the Jets go far in the playoffs that could
eliminate Henderson from consideration.

Still, Jets head coach Herman Edwards thinks his assistant would
be a good choice.

"I think he would do an outstanding job, it's just according to
where he wants to go, if he wants to do it at the college level or
pro level," Edwards said. "If he has an opportunity to interview,
he should go in if he elects to do that. He has all the
qualities."

Other possibilities from the pro ranks include two other
defensive coordinators -- Tim Lewis of the New York Giants and Jerry
Gray of the Buffalo Bills. Oklahoma assistant Bo Pelini, Texas
assistant Greg Robinson and Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall
also have been mentioned.

Gray just finished his fourth year with the Bills and eighth
overall in the NFL. He was a two-time All-American at the
University of Texas from 1983-84 and played nine seasons in the NFL
with the Rams, Oilers and Buccaneers. He began his coaching career
at SMU and spent four years with the Tennessee Titans. The Bills
finished second in total defense this season, and Gross has
emphasized he is looking for a defensive-minded coach.

Attempts Wednesday to reach Gray and Pelini for comment were
unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, George DeLeone, an assistant football coach at
Syracuse for two decades and the man who designed the Orange's
freeze option offense, has accepted a job as offensive line coach
at Ole Miss, according to The Post-Standard of Syracuse.

Syracuse officials said Wednesday they could not confirm
DeLeone's departure, and the director of sports information at the
University of Mississippi said Wednesday that he could not comment.

At Mississippi, the 56-year-old DeLeone will be reunited with Ed
Orgeron, another former Syracuse coach. Orgeron, who coached the
defensive line for national champion USC, was hired Dec. 16 to
replace David Cutcliffe following the Rebels' 4-7 season and is
expected to announce his staff this week.