The Jon Gruden to Tennessee rumors have been heating up for a while now, with the latest being that the coach has reached out to other coaches to gauge their interest in potentially joining him.
It’s been reported recently that the university offered more than $10 million per year to Gruden, though others have since reported things have yet to move to that level of communication. For his part, Gruden recently said, “you never say never” about a potential return to coaching.
So clearly, there’s at least a little fire behind all the smoke.
However, a new report by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports gives us reason to press the pause button, at least for a little while. He notes Tennessee has “considerable reservations” about hiring Gruden.
“The concerns surround the fact Gruden has not coached at all in nine years and has not roamed a college football sideline in 26 years. Also, Gruden was basically a .500 coach (57-55) in his seven years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even after winning the Super Bowl in his first season with the Bucs in 2002. Some contend that roster had been largely assembled by former coach Tony Dungy, who had one losing season in his 13 combined years with Tampa Bay and the Indianapolis Colts. … There is also concern about his recruiting ability, especially in the hyper-charged SEC culture that lives day-to-day on recruiting.”
Gruden isn’t out of the running (if he ever was seriously in it to begin with) for this job. However, it’s clear that the coach’s long tenure in the booth is at least partially affecting his current viability for new jobs.
And the longer Gruden stays in the booth with ESPN, the likelier it becomes he never does take up coaching again.
For Tennessee, the search for a new head coach will likely be handled with extreme caution. Butch Jones failed to turn the program into a national contender like he was expected to, and whomever the university chooses will have tremendous pressure to fix things, and fix them quickly.