Boot up your computer and Google “Jon Gruden” and you’ll find reports everywhere that that he wants to coach again. Some of these reports go so far as to say that he’s been contacting current NFL coaches to check on their availability for next season in an effort to form a staff. Where will he go? Philadelphia appears to be the most popular destination as with each Eagles loss comes a new story that he will replace Andy Reid.
Eagles fans who are marking time waiting for the inevitable to happen may want to add another name to their Christmas list however, a plan B if you will. News Channel 3 in Knoxville, TN is now reporting that the former Super Bowl winning NFL head coach has a contract offer in hand from the University of Tennessee and a decision could be made as early as Wednesday.
There is an obvious complication here since Gruden is currently under contract working as an NFL analyst for ESPN, but that would have to be dealt with if he wants to leave and coach anywhere. The real news here is that the report states that Gruden’s compensation would include partial ownership of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. What’s the connection there? The Browns were recently bought by one of the Vol’s biggest boosters, Jimmy Hasalam III, the son of multi-millionaire founder of Pilot, Jim Hasalam, a member of Tennessee’s national championship teams in the early 1950’s. As if that interesting contractual offer wasn’t noteworthy on it’s own merit, throw in the fact that Gruden is apparently still being paid by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from monies owed to him after leaving there in 2008. This of course begs the question of would the NFL allow Gruden to receive compensation from two teams at the same time…
Desperation in Knoxville
The Vols offer to Gruden if true as reported reeks of desperation which is in line with their recent actions. With one game still left on their schedule Tennessee fired head coach Derek Dooley on Sunday, just one day after his Vols got embarrassed 41-18 by Vanderbilt. The loss guaranteed the Volunteers their third consecutive losing season, the first time they have finished below .500 in three straight years since 1909-11. Tennessee’s loss to Vanderbilt marked only the second time in 30 years that the Vols had fallen to their in-state rival. Offensive coordinator John Chaney will coach Tennessee’s last game against Kentucky on Saturday in Knoxville.
If Gruden were to go to Tennessee under these circumstance it would certainly be one of the more interesting developments in recent sports history. Overpaying coaches or players in sports usually doesn’t work out, but Tennessee appears to be dead set on getting back to the top of the SEC ranks again and not factoring logic or reason into the equation. It will certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out with fans in Tennessee and Philadelphia on the edge of their seats awaiting every rumor and report.