The NFL Today: Arkansas, Tennessee want Jon Gruden
Former Buccaneers and Raiders coach Jon Gruden has been one of the most coveted coaching candidates since leaving the game for the broadcast booth after the 2008 season, and has been approached by multiple NFL owners and universities in recent years, with Arkansas and Tennessee of the SEC ranking as the latest to covet him.
League sources said Gruden has made calls identifying possible staff members with his focus seeming more on the college game, asking questions of those potential staffers about recruiting and issues that do not relate to pro football. Numerous sources who have talked to him in recent weeks came away with the impression that Gruden was more serious about return to coaching now than at any time since he was fired by the Bucs after the 2008 season, although it still would have to be a perfect situation to lure him from his current job at ESPN, where he is well compensated and gets to have a fairly normal family life. While coaching in the NFL, Gruden was notorious for his maniacal approach to coaching, in a nearly round-the-clock fashion. Gruden was 95-81 in 10 seasons with five playoff appearances as head coach of the Raiders and Bucs (1998-2008) but did not win a playoff game after leading Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.
In each of the previous episodes of Gruden to [Insert Hopeful School Here], the "sources close to" people involved in the coaching search were connected to the schools themselves, or at least claimed to be.
This installment has a different texture to it, as Jason La Canfora is an NFL insider and cites league sources rather than those connected to the college game. This doesn't mean that Gruden finally makes the move and takes a college football job, but the fact that a whole different group of people are talking about it makes it a lot more interesting.
La Canfora mentions all the reasons why Gruden might move to Knoxville or Fayetteville. Family. Fat contract. Big time booster support.
But La Canfora doesn't mention the several million reasons why he wouldn't.
"I said I want to get good at this," Gruden said while preparing for the prime-time game at the New Jersey Meadowlands between the Dolphins and Jets. "I was serious about this from the day I started it and I am serious about wanting to get good at it."I spent 26 or 27 years in coaching, 18 of them in the NFL. I want to focus on this and get better every day."Gruden has earned two Sports Emmy Award nominations for his work in the "Monday Night Football" booth, where he is joined by play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico and analyst Ron Jaworski.
"This is my team," Gruden said. "I loved doing this with these guys, keeping me close to the game. We have a lot of fun and hey, we love football."