Jon Gruden is still mulling his coaching future, with the Tennessee Volunteers football job now open.
The initial reaction people are giving when Gruden’s name is being brought up for the Tennessee job is: “Why would he go there?”
Tennessee has a rich football history, but it’s not exactly Alabama, Ohio State or Michigan in terms of prestige.
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The answer is that his son is currently a student at Tennessee, his wife is a former Vols cheerleader and Gruden himself worked as a grad assistant there. He’s also stated in the past that Tennessee is “one of only three college jobs” he’d ever take.
“Six difference sources, ranging from current coaches to former all-time great Vols to college administrators, in the past 72-96 hours tell me that Gruden is far more seriously considering this Tennessee offer than ever before; so much so that Gruden is making some preliminary calls to coaches and other college athletics folks about potentially joining him in Knoxville.”
The hangup for Gruden right now might not be the fact that he currently has a stress-free gig with ESPN. Instead it might be his worry that he’s not suited for the college game.
“I’ve met with several people [about coaching again] – I won’t deny that,” Gruden said. “People – just about every year I talk about coming back to coach. I’m not in here every day at 4:30 or 4 in the morning watching pinball, ya know? I’m preparing myself to come back [to coach]. I am. Every day. I’m preparing to come back.
“It helps me in my broadcasting and I think if you lose that edge you can’t come back unless you are totally wired with college football, personnel, schemes, the CBA, how people are practicing, trends, you know. You’ve got to stay on top of this stuff.
“I was very determined to be a college coach [when I was younger]. Then I realized that if I became a college coach I would probably have you on probation within four or five weeks. Too many rules, man. I mean I like to work. I don’t like to be working 15 hours a week with players. The recruiting, Facebook, texting, emails, all that stuff. Yeah, I’d probably have you in real deep, deep trouble if I was your college coach.”
That goes against the grain of what we’re typically told when it comes to the NFL versus college. The stereotype is that NFL coaches are in a bunker for 20 hours a day looking at film, while the college coach looks at film for two hours or so and calls it a day.
If Tennessee can convince Gruden that the recruiting process is not as grueling as it seems, then they might be in business. Otherwise, it appears that Gruden will return to the NFL in 2018 as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs are the most underachieving team in the NFL and Gruden is still extremely close to the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs.
Here is what Buccaneers co-chairman Brian Glazer said of Gruden this past summer (via Tampa Bay Times): “Jon Gruden is the reason I’m wearing this [Super Bowl] ring. He’s also the reason my father was standing beside him holding the Lombardi Trophy and delivered on his promise to make the Buccaneers winners on and off the field.”