But he’s still not saying anything definitive regarding the Saints soon-to-be vacant head coaching position in 2012. So yes, we’re saying there’s a chance

Earlier today we learned that Sean Payton has been doing some recruiting, and has targeted Bill Parcells as his possible replacement on the Saints sideline as he serves his one-year BountyGate penalty. Parcells was chillin’ at the ballpark all day in Jupiter, Florida, relaxing in a way that only a 70-year-old man who doesn’t have to worry about the draft or free agency can.

He was asked numerous times about the reports regarding Payton’s advances that emerged thanks to ESPN, and he either said very little, or gave non-answers. He told Newsday’s David Lennon that “everything is hypothetical at this point,” which can pretty much be said about any idea that’s ever existed. Lennon also asked if Payton specifically discussed the Saints job with him, and he said “not really.”

This is all perhaps little more than vague smoke signals in what’s been a historically smokey March. But later on Parcells talked to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, and he had another chance to definitively deny any involvement with Payton whatsoever.

While he didn’t confirm interest in the job, that denial still didn’t happen.

From King:

Parcells would not discuss many of the specifics of his conversations with Payton. But he did say: “Sean Payton and I know each other well, and he has sought my counsel about his situation with the Saints. He has told me a little bit about the team, about the situation they’re in, and about the players. But that is it.”

He said Payton has certainly not offered him the interim coaching job — nor would that likely be the province of Payton to do.

I asked Parcells if he had the bug to return to coaching.

“Do I have the bug?” he said, then paused. “I don’t think so.”

Finding and hiring a new interim head coach is a job for both general manager Mickey Loomis and owner Tom Benson. While Payton certainly has a voice and influence in the matter, he has no power. In less than a week he’ll vanish from the Saints organization for nearly a calendar year, so this is a decision others in the organization need to both make and deal with.

It’s a unique and historic situation that will require a unique solution, and his football itch is what kept Parcells involved in the upper levels of league until his 68th birthday, although he told King that after leaving the Cowboys in 2006 he had two coaching job offers that he didn’t pursue. There are, of course, many complicating factors in New Orleans, starting with the possibility that Payton will appeal his suspension, and be allowed to remain the Saints’ coach while doing so.

Parcells turns 71 in August, and he’d be the oldest coach in league history if he signs on. The coaching bug doesn’t fade easily, and for someone with his passion it may just be a matter of finding the right opportunity to ignite the fire once more.

And what’s better than taking over a loaded offense for one last championship run, and a team that’s only two years removed from winning the Super Bowl?