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.

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 what 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 Chiefs owner Clark Hunt is losing patience with a coaching staff that’s 1-19 since a year ago last October?

That, too, is not known. Since July, Hunt has mostly avoided speaking with the media, promising to sit down with individual reporters at the end of this season as he did at the end of last season. In the two times he has spoken publicly on the Chiefs, Hunt 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 miserable season they’ve given up a team-record 332 yards rushing and set the team record by squandering a 21-point lead.

Perhaps as alarming as anything to manage are the empty seats at Arrowhead Stadium. Every week there are thousands.

Fans are growing impatient and angry, even those who recall that Hunt and Edwards both said going into the season that a full-fledged youth movement was certain to bring pain.

Most of the displeasure is being aimed at Carl Peterson, the president and general manager since 1989. 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-wracked Jets finished 4-12, Edwards in his last 59 games is 18-41.

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 misery as well. This week at Oakland, rookie tackle Glenn Dorsey might be the only starter on the four-man defensive front who’s able to play.

So far, the fewest victories any Chiefs team managed were two in 1977. The worst they’ve done in a non-strike 16-game season is 4-12. All five of the final games seem winnable, starting with Sunday’s trip to the Raiders and including games San Diego, Denver, Miami and Cincinnati.

But all would also seem loseable because the 2008 Chiefs seem likely to go into the record book as having the worst pass rush since the NFL began keeping track of the stat.

The record is now held by the 1981 Baltimore Colts, with 13. The Chiefs, with five games to go, have six.

Nevertheless, while being coy about any possible career changes, Edwards stoutly defends his rebuilding plan and insists that 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.”