This Gruden “Thing”

On Wednesday, the rumor mill regarding the imminent hiring of Jon Gruden as Tennessee’s next head football coach vortexed into a category 5 tornado.

But, why would Jon Gruden want to be the next head football coach of the Vols?

This love affair with Jon Gruden has been going on for years. Gruden’s name came up before Kiffin was hired. His name came up again before Dooley was hired. And now, according to some, Gruden is all but signed up as the next coach.

On Wednesday, a poster going by the name of “Tenaceous D” put this up on one of the Tennessee fan message board sitess:

I’ve just been told that the University of Tennessee has completed its negotiations, and that an agreement has been reached to name Jon Gruden as the next head coach of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. It’s done. And by “done” I mean LOI or MOU is being written, and either has been or will be signed in short order. I have no idea as to the announcement of Dooley’s “resignation” or of Gruden’s acceptance, but I am now confident in saying that it is done. The celebration can safely commence. P.S. – This has also been confirmed by SpringbokVol on TOOS, so kudos to him for being the first to break the news of its finality.

This post was followed by numerous tweets from the site to local and national sports writers linking the posted story to the site. Talk about putting all of your chips in on one hand!

Now, who am I to know if this is true or not?

It’s not that I don’t think Tennessee might be going after Gruden, or at the very least, engaging him in some discussions about the possibilities.

I just don’t think that Gruden will be the next coach in Knoxville because I don’t understand why he would want the job.


As you surely know, Jon Gruden is quite the rock star on the American sporting scene. In May 2009, Gruden was hired by ESPN as a commentator on their Monday Night Football telecasts, in addition to other work for the network. Recently he signed a five-year contract extension with ESPN that went into effect at the beginning of this year’s NFL season.

The point here is that Gruden makes a tremendous amount of money in what has to be a terrific job. Why would he give that up for a chance to coach UT?

Many say that it would be because he loves the Knoxville area (he owns property and his wife is a former UT cheerleader), and that his first coaching job was with the Vols under Johnny Majors (he was a graduate assistant in 1986-87).

Those are reasons to give up a sweet gig for the pressure cooker of the SEC at a program that has been in degradation mode for the last decade?

Gruden, deservedly so, is living off his successes earned as a head coach in the NFL. He has a sterling reputation as a football coach, which gives him tremendous credibility as an on-the-air expert and commentator. Why in the world would he risk polluting that aura?

Gruden is also known as a bit of an attention seeker — he is known to ‘flirt’ when it comes to open or possibly open positions. But, nothing ever comes of it, or has so far. There was and still is Tennessee. There has been Oregon, Louisville, and Miami. Nothing ever came of these so-called opportunities.

And this brings up the other reason that people bring up — Gruden is itching to get back in coaching. Well, 2008 was his last season as a coach. That was four years ago. The itch apparently hasn’t been very strong, and coaches who leave the game and come back usually don’t take that long.


So, I don’t believe Gruden is coming to replace Derek Dooley. Or, better put, I won’t believe it until the ink is dry and he steps to a podium with the Seven Game Maxims propped behind him.

The more disturbing aspect about this whole Gruden “Thing” is the Tennessee fanbase. To the rest of the nation, we must look like the desperate guy or girl at the dance without a date. We are falling all over ourselves just to get a peek at the object of our infatuation.

And when Gruden doesn’t come to Knoxville as the next coach, there is going to be a letdown of epic proportions. And the backlash certainly isn’t going to help the guy who is brought in as Dooley’s replacement, if that even happens later this year.

Humorous? Absolutely.

Embarrassing? That, too.


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9 responses to “This Gruden “Thing””

  1. Sandy says :

    And of course here in the great state of North Carolina, the rumor’s are all about Cutcliffe:

    • norcalvol says :

      I heard earlier today that Coach Cut described the Vol fanbase as fickle. I’m sure he has positive feelings for UT, but I can’t imagine why he would want this job.

  2. tk says :

    i additon to buying out the contracts of the existing tennessee coaching staff would we also have to buy out the rest of grudens contract with ESPN… this is getting expensive!!!!

    • norcalvol says :

      Yes, the ESPN buyout factor hasn’t been mentioned much, but like the buyout of Dooley and his assistants, it all could be funded by boosters e.g. Haslam (who purchased the Cleveland Browns for over $1 billion).

  3. mchap says :

    i have been lifelong vol fan. I live or the fall and football in general. But nobody has really given me on good reason why Gruden will come to Knoxville. Like in article, why leave a cushy job to come back into college coaching.The stress level or college coaches in my opinion is o the charts. Not that the pros don’t have stress, but nothing like college.Also, as much as i love and will always love my vols, what do we offer? Im just looking for one solid aspect that would be appealing. I could be wrong and he does sign and come to Knoxville, but i wouldn’t bet on it.

    • norcalvol says :

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      It’s a tough situation. Many people might find themselves very very disappointed because of unrealistic, ill-founded expectations.

      We’ll see. First things first – let’s play a good game in Columbia on Saturday.

  4. Larry The Deuce says :

    I think it is logical that he would stay in the booth if we expect him to basically be the next John Madden. Coach, have success, then move to the booth to never coach again.
    As far as why he would want to coach, from what I understand Tampa Bay has paid him his last payment after firing him. He wants a job where he would have total control and where he would be able to use his fame and reputation (which is stronger than before he moved to the booth) to bolster his success and ego.
    Why Knoxville? Because he would be in the best college conference and be a rock star in the SEC. He would be all over ESPN and the media would beat a door to him weekly.
    Will he end up here? I don’t know. I know everyone claims a source. I actually saw an email yesterday whose originator is serious money and who is tied to even more serious money. This is a person who is not the type who is given to repeating internet rumor. He claims that his other money friends say it will happen. Take it for what it’s worth. It doesn’t make me believe it absolutely will but it made me think there is a better chance.

    • Norcalvol says :

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Larry.

      If you are correct about Gruden’s mindset, then it is about UT’s willingness to spend money, being able to find that money, and willingness to give the amount of control.

      Yesterday somebody said this may be all about whether or not Tennessee wants to be a big league football program. I have to think that now we do (the full potential apathy factor is too noticeable to be ignored)..

  5. tk says :

    i have heard that peyton manning has now offered up one million dollars toward buying out that ESPN contract.

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