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.
Embarrassing? That, too.