KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When told his name was popping up in connection with the vacant coaching job at San Diego State, Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards delivered a glib and funny reply.
"I've got a college team right now that I'm coaching," the embattled leader of the very youthful and 1-10 Kansas City Chiefs said with a laugh. "Next question."
Asked again, he repeated the same line and the matter was dropped.
But given an opportunity the next day to put an end to any speculation his non-denial might fuel, the third-year Chiefs coach had even less to say.
"I'm just not talking about that at all," he said.
So might Edwards be inclined to give serious thought to leaving the NFL and returning to San Diego State, where he graduated in 1976? Or was he simply laughing off an idea that seemed preposterous?
Could he be leaving his options open because the franchise may be losing patience with a coaching staff that's 1-19 since a year ago last October?
That, too, is not known. Since July, in the two times Chiefs owner Clark Hunt has spoken publicly on the team, he has expressed support for Edwards and his staff.
E-mails last week and this week to Hunt's personal assistant requesting an interview were not answered.
What is known is that 2008 is shaping up as the Chiefs' worst season since the late Lamar Hunt founded the franchise in 1960. Last week's 54-31 loss to Buffalo broke the team record for points allowed, and in other losses this season they've given up a team-record 332 yards rushing and set the team mark by squandering a 21-point lead.
While the team is admittedly in a full-fledged youth movement this season, Carl Peterson, the president and general manager since 1989, has been a target of criticism. But Edwards, hired after the 2005 season, is also coming under fire as losses pile up.
Counting his last season as head coach in New York when the injury-racked Jets finished 4-12, Edwards is 18-41 in his last 59 games.
The mistakes of youth were expected. The Chiefs opened the season as the youngest team in the NFL. And an injury epidemic, similar to the one that swamped Edwards' 2005 Jets, has contributed to the struggles. This week at Oakland, rookie tackle Glenn Dorsey might be the only starter on the four-man defensive front who's able to play.
But all would also seem losable because the 2008 Chiefs have a chance to go into the record book as having the worst pass rush since the NFL began keeping track of the stat.
Nevertheless, while being coy about any possible career changes, Edwards stoutly defends his rebuilding plan and insists it is bearing fruit. One encouraging note has been the development of third-team quarterback Tyler Thigpen.
"But there's a lot of other young players on this football team who are getting better," Edwards said. "It doesn't show on the scoreboard as far as wins or losses right now. But you look at the grand scheme of things, we knew when we decided to do this, it would be tough. And it's been a lot tougher than we anticipated. But still through all that, these young guys are getting better."
And, according to Edwards, Hunt remains fully on board.
"Yeah, we talk all the time," he said. "He knows exactly what we're trying to do. We're all on the same page. Everyone signed off on this. This is what we're going to do. You've got have guts to do it and that's why everyone doesn't like doing it, because it's hard."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press