MINNEAPOLIS -- The lure of a second head coaching job may be enough to reunite Ted Marchibroda and the Indianapolis Colts.
"I'm an assistant coach, and all assistants aspire to be the head man," Marchibroda said yesterday. "If the situation would present itself, then I would have to make a decision."
The decision, surprisingly, might be an easy one for Marchibroda, 60, the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. Although the Colts' head coaching position isn't officially open, the team has interviewed Michigan State coach George Perles and incumbent Rick Venturi. General manager Jim Irsay wants to talk to Marchibroda soon after Super Bowl XXVI against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
The job reportedly is Marchibroda's to turn down. Privately, the Colts are saying they want to reach a coaching decision by Wednesday.
Marchibroda said no contact has been made yet.
"I've just got to wait until the season is over and see what happens," he said. "I feel, from everything I've read and heard, that the interest is there."
Buffalo head coach Marv Levy said Marchibroda's contributions to the Bills, including the no-huddle offense, "are so great I almost can't quantify them."
When asked if he thought Marchibroda was leaving the Bills, quarterback Jim Kelly related a perspective Marchibroda preached to backup Bills quarterback Frank Reich.
"Ted always told us, 'Wouldn't you rather be the backup on a good team than a starter for a bad team?' " Kelly said. "I threw that right back at him: 'Wouldn't you rather be as assistant coach for a good team than a head coach on a bad team?' "
L Marchibroda remembered the tale, then went Kelly one better.
"When Frank started his first game in four years against the Los Angeles Rams and beat them [two years ago], at the end of the game, I said, 'Frank, it's worth the wait.' "
Marchibroda coached the Colts from 1975-79, winning three straight division titles. He had a 41-36 record and was 29-4 during one stretchbefore being fired after a 5-11 season in 1979.
* The Bills have complained this week about the spotting of the ball in the AFC championship game against Denver, saying officials slowed down their no-huddle offense. And that, they say, contributed to a spotty offensive performance in the 10-7 victory.
"I think this will be a different type of game, especially if the referee gets out of the way of the ball," Bills running back Thurman Thomas said of Sunday's game. "With our offense, we like to snap the ball within 10 to 15 seconds. We didn't have a chance to do that against Denver. Against Washington, even if the tempo is not the same, we will do some things differently hoping to confuse them."
Levy said he called Jerry Seeman, the league's director of officiating, about the spotting of the ball after the Denver game.
"He didn't say the words, but my feeling was he agreed it was too late," Levy said.
* The Bills have all but counted strong safety Leonard Smith out of the Super Bowl because of an infected knee. He missed his second straight practice at the University of Minnesota's indoor facility, where the Bills are training, and remained at the team's hotel.
The Bills continued to be encouraged, meanwhile, on the availability of right guard Glenn Parker (strained left knee). Parker practiced for the second straight day, but is still listed as questionable.
Defensive end Bruce Smith was held out of practice again to prevent the buildup of fluid on his left knee. "We'll probably just hold him out and play him Sunday," Levy said.
* Levy has been quick with one-liners during the daily media sessions. Here is a sampling.
On coaches who complain of burnout: "The only time I ever see coaches who say they are experiencing burnout or that they are going to quit are the ones who are financially secure when they say that."
On people saying legendary Dallas coach Tom Landry couldn't win the big game before he won the Super Bowl: "Tom Landry flew B17s in World War II -- don't tell me he couldn't win the big one."
On how he differs from workaholic Redskins coach Joe Gibbs: "Well, I live three minutes from the stadium, so there's not much sense sleeping in the office."
On coaching commitment: "I think you have to work hard; you have to devote yourself whole-heartedly and in full. If you're running around looking for a lot of Sani-Flush commercials or something else, you don't belong in coaching."