Add another prominant vote for Jon Gruden as the next Eagles head coach.

This time, the endorser is ex-coach Dick Vermeil, who led the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance and won one with the St. Louis Rams, "the Greatest Show on Turf."

"My choice would be Jon Gruden," Vermeil told 94 WIP's Anthony Gargano and Glen Macnow Tuesday afternoon. "... I just think he's a helluva of football coach, and I don't want him to make the mistake I made, to wait too long to go back. I just think he's a helluva football coach and a great personality."

He seemed to urge the Eagles not just to contact Gruden, 49, but to make a serious push.

"I'd do more than ask," Vermeil said. "You know what I'd do? I'd get in a bus and take the bank with me."

Gruden, an Eagles offense coordinator who won a Super Bowl as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has lately been in the Monday Night Football broadcasting booth - and apparently off the radar of the Birds' brain trust in their search to replace the recently fired Andy Reid.

On Monday, the club's ignoring of Gruden was strongly questioned by ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who was quarterback during Vermeil's Super Bowl run with the Eagles.

"Jaws" contradicted Vermeil's impression Gruden might not be interested. Jaworski told Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic that he'd spoken with Gruden, who was eager to coach again for the right team, but had heard not a word from the Birds.

"I would want a guy that is a proven winning Super Bowl coach," Jaworski said on 97.5 The Fanatic, also suggesting the Eagles should have contacted Bill Cowher, a former Eagles player who won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, if only to pick his brains.

Vermeil's second choice? Cowher.

"There's no substitute for experienced people, you know, to really take it now to the next level quickly," Vermeil said.

Cowher, though, has apparently been turning down clubs' overtures, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (http://ph.ly/cowher).

Instead, the Eagles initially focused on "second-tier candidates," Jaworski said. "I lump all these candidates now into one box right now. There's a lot of guys who were assistant coaches that haven't proven themselves."

The team's strong bid to land Chip Kelly ended when Kelly decided to stay on at the University of Oregon.

Jaworski wasn't fazed. "I'm not that concerned about it," he said. "... The most important thing is that the Eagles get it right. ... I don't care how long it takes."

The Eagles even asked to interview Jon Gruden's younger brother, Jay - who seems content to remain offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. "I have every intention of coming back here," he told a reporter Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Eagles did add a former NFL head coach to their list: the newly fired Lovie Smith, who led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2007 and a 10-6 record last season. The interview is reportedly set for Thursday.