The Tennessee football program has now whiffed on both Greg Schiano and Mike Gundy when it comes to their vacant head coach position. Tennessee may now be left with no choice but to give Jon Gruden an offer he can’t refuse – say, double what he is reportedly asking to make. Here is what Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said on his podcast about the Tennessee job as it pertains to opening up the vault for Gruden. Mind you, this was just before Gundy turned down the head coaching job.
“Now that the job is vacant there has not been a peep about Gruden to Tennessee, which causes me to believe that my first reaction is – for a change – the right reaction,” Florio said. “That it was all puffed up, trumped up, made up aimed at creating leverage. Gruden wants something. He’s either angle for a big new deal with ESPN or he really is interested in jumping out of the broadcast booth and he’s trying to maximize his options and one way to do that is to create the widest possible sense of demand for a guy’s services.”
Gruden is reportedly asking for $10 million a year and $8 million for staff salaries. The staff salaries part is nothing to sneeze at either, as Gruden has said in the past that if he gets into college coaching he wants his staff to handle the majority of the recruiting.
“If Gruden was even remotely interested (in Tennessee) now’s the time to swoop in,” Florio continues. “People are confused about the fact that Tennessee has gone after Mike Gundy. That Mike Gundy is in some way perceived as a fall-back to Greg Schiano. No, what happened is that when they blew it with Schiano they had to bust into a new tax bracket. And that same reasoning would apply to Jon Gruden. You tried to make spaghetti and you burned it, so now you gotta go out and buy steaks. And Jon Gruden would be the prime filet that they should pursue but that would mean that the talk of Gruden talking to Tennessee was real, and it wasn’t real.”
Unlike PFT’s Florio, CBS’ Jason La Canfora believes that Gruden to Tennessee is still possible. Here is what La Canfora wrote earlier this week: “Tennessee officials have interest in some current NFL coaches as well, sources said, and would like to get this matter resolved in short order, with recruiting battles on the horizon, though Gruden remains under contract with ESPN for multiple years. The ability to procure him from that contract, midseason, is a matter of some debate, but is not out of the question, according to sources.”