Jon Gruden rumors have flown all year, in both the NFL and college ranks. With high-profile openings in college, including Tennessee, Arkansas, California, and probably Auburn, Gruden is a hot name. Tennessee fans certainly seem to want Gruden in Knoxville, as evidenced by the video below. And NFL fans will definitely want in for the Jets, or Eagles, or maybe even the Chiefs or Cowboys or Chargers, depending on how the season turns out.
Gruden has repeatedly denied that he wil leave the cozy confines of the Monday Night Football booth at ESPN. But the fact of the matter is that the Jon Gruden rumors will continue for the rest of his career - he's still a young guy at 49, and his boyish looks remind everyone of the wunderkind status he assumed when he won a Super Bowl title with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2002 season. He was considered an offensive wiz, and his championship just seems to cement the perception that he is the perfect guy to step into a rebuilding college program or NFL team and turn it around.
But there's more to consider. First of all, Gruden's Super Bowl title comes with two huge caveats. He was facing his old team, the Oakland Raiders (who had agreed to "trade" him to Tampa based on some feelings that he wasn't the right guy for Al Davis), and he was stepping into a team that had been almost completely assembled by his predecessor, Tony Dungy. With a ready-made team and exact, detailed knowledge of his opponent down to their audible signals (allegedly), it would have been an upset for him to NOT win.
Of course, he still won a division title and took his team to the big game, and that's nothing to scoff at. Of course, the Bucs did not do much for the next several years, and Gruden was fired just a year after receiving a contract extension, with his team in the midst of a four-game losing streak to end the season.
That was 2009. That may not seem like a long time ago, but Gruden has been off the sidelines for three years now. If he stepped into a leadership role with a team, there's no telling whether he'd be able to recapture that magic he had a decade ago. Bobby Valentine was supposedly a magician, but he'd been away from baseball for so long that he ran the Red Sox into the ground.
Football fans are as irrational as it gets, and the idea that there is one particular savior out there that can either turn around a school's reputation or get an NFL team over the top is usually fallacious. How effective of a recruiter would Gruden be, given he's been sitting in a booth for three years and hasn't been in the college game since 1991? How will his fiery style work with professional players, especially ones he has been trashing on TV?
And honestly, why would Gruden want to come back? He gets paid millions to work about 15 games a year. He talks - he doesn't have to stand in the rain and the snow and scream at guys, or spend his whole summer running training camps. He gets to watch film for pleasure (you just KNOW he spends his down time watching corner blitzes and post patterns on tape), and there's essentially no pressure on him. He knows he's The Guy at ESPN, because they made him the second man in a two-man booth this year. Why mess that up?
Of course, don't tell that to Tennessee fans: