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Rumors Gruden Style: A Hogs-Vols Bidding War?

Well, let’s just start the day with the latest on Jon Gruden — the great white whale of college football fans everywhere.  There’s a reason we’ve used the photo we doctored up at left for the past few seasons.  Every fall Gruden’s name gets tied to numerous college football jobs and every season he winds up back in the ESPN broadcast booth.

But now that the Glazer family is no longer having to write him checks to not coach their Tampa Bay Buccaneers perhaps he really is ready to head back to the sidelines.  For weeks, Arkansas and Tennessee fans have been claiming on talk radio, on messageboards, and in emails to this and (we suspect) other sites that Gruden has already agreed to coach their beloved school.  His family has checked out schools and homes in those areas.  He’s been spotted in Fayetteville and in Knoxville (though no one can manage to get a clear photo of him or his family in this world filled with cell phone cameras).

Yesterday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports kicked the Gruden talk into overdrive.  In his report he stated that:

 

*  Both Arkansas and Tennessee are chasing Gruden.

*  “The Razorbacks are prepared to make their next coach the highest-paid in the SEC, according to sources close to the program, and budget will not be an issue.”

*  “Browns owner Jimmy Haslam — a billionaire booster for the Volunteers, whose brother Bill, just happens to be the governor of Tennessee — has told several people that he loves Gruden and believes he would be a great fit at the school.”

*  “League sources” have said Gruden has called a number of potential assistant coaches “with his focus seeming more on the college game, asking questions of those potential staffers about recruiting and issues that do not related to pro football.”

*  Raheem Morris — the man who replaced Gruden in Tampa — would be strongly considered for any defensive coordinator job Gruden might have to fill in 2013.

 

Impressive.  Of course, there’s nothing new there.  It’s all packaged neatly in one spot, but you can find those very same factoids all over the web from messageboards to blogs to Bleacher Report.

Still, let’s tackle the issue of an Arkansas-Tennessee bidding war.  If Gruden and his agent, Bob LaMonte, are simply looking for the most cash, that’ll come from Arkansas.  New UT athletic director Dave Hart has repeatedly stated — including yesterday while announcing Derek Dooley’s firing — that his school has serious financial issues with less revenue coming in and huge debt sitting on the books.  UA athletic director Jeff Long doesn’t have to worry much about debt-ratios.  Unlike Tennessee with Dooley and his aides, Arkansas didn’t have to buy out Bobby Petrino this past spring.  Plus, while Tennessee has Haslam money from Pilot Travel Centers, Arkansas has the resources of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the Walton family (Walmart) and Tyson Foods to call on if needed.

While Haslam could be interested in Gruden for the Vols or Browns, Jones could be interested in Gruden for the Razorbacks or Cowboys (though he’s supposedly still lovey-dovey with current coach Jason Garrett).

If Gruden is looking for family connections and personal history, then Tennessee would seemingly have the advantage over Arkansas.  As even isolated South American tribes now know, Gruden served as a GA at UT in the mid-80s, met his bride to be there (a Vol cheerleader), and the missus still has family in East Tennessee.  If blood is thicker than money, then the Volunteers have the edge.

As for where he’ll coach next year if he does return, it should not be a surprise that he’s asking coaches about the college game.  He hasn’t been in the college game in 20 years.  He knows the NFL.  And we’ve been told that several of his former Buccaneer assistants are simply waiting for the phone call that puts the band back together, so to speak.

While Gruden’s calls regarding the college game will be taken by Arkansas and Tennessee fans as a sure sign that he’s headed to one of those campuses or the other, it could be that the buttoned-up Gruden is simply prepping himself for whatever winds up being the best offer.  He knows the pro game and talks to pro assistants every week.  He’s got a staff of ex-Buc coaches to bring together again in the NFL.  So why talk to other coaches about the college game just in case no NFL teams comes calling (which is doubtful)?

Unlike Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier, Gruden has been a pro coach rather than a college coach.  For that reason, we’re still skeptical that he’ll wind up in Fayetteville or Knoxville.  Not saying it won’t happen, just that we’re skeptical.

As we wrote last week, coaches tend to head back to what they know.  Whether that was Pete Carroll heading back to the NFL or Saban and Spurrier returning to the college ranks.  If Gruden decides to leave the broadcast booth, it seems more likely he’d return to the pro game that he knows and loves.

Either way, once again he and his agent have played things perfectly.  Two schools are reportedly set to chase him with wallets open.  One or more NFL owners will probably do likewise.  Which means it’s business as usual this fall for Gruden.  Each November at this time he becomes the only thing in America more popular than turkey.

Well, played Team Gruden.  Well played.

 

And speaking of turkeys, Arkansas and Tennessee fans are trying to aid their schools with their musical skills.  Yikes

 

httpsv://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MoOJB1uzpdw

 

httpsv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbvHwSyEQVs

 


10 comments
badbadhoggie
badbadhoggie

Just heard it on the,radio here in memphis on one of the local talk show host John Rainey "The Rainman" his reliable source told him that the day after the vols-miss st game an offer of was made to gruden of $30 mil over 6 yrs and gruden wanted less yrs and more money, so tenn offered 4yrs and the same $30mil over 4 yrs and he accepted the offer and it will be announced soon after the Kentucky game?  Now it's all settled and everyone can start looking elsewhere!!  Now who do my HOGS hire? dayum lol

badbadhoggie
badbadhoggie

It seems to me with all the various sightings etc...all Gruden does is go out and eat at various college towns, he's seen everywhere and sure eats out a lot!!  lol

MofromMonroe
MofromMonroe

Dont necessarily agree that the Haslams checkbook wont open wider than Jones, Tyson, etc.  This is the reason:  I believe the Haslams are primarily responsible for the impetus to hire Dooley.  Remember the logistics of the hire.  I believe they (Haslams) feel the responsibility of putting the thumb on the scales there and in other places and will come from the hip to fix it.  Everyone wants to ask what Dave Hart will do?  They are asking the wrong question to the wrong person. 

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

What do you think Gruden's potential for recruiting is at Arkansas or Tennessee? Seems to me both the Vol and the Razorback programs require the ability to dig deep into other states to survive. The Vols (I'm guessing here) would seem to need the ability to hit the nearby Eastern states (Florida, Georgia and maybe La) and the Razorbacks have to get into Texas and La. Does Gruden have any background that would demonstrate a strong recruiting background in either of these areas?

 

Mushamp at UF has done a killer job in recruiting (as has the traditional recruiting machines Saban and Miles, along with Spurrier who is very good at the game and needs to get his fair share for the Gamecocks) in the states in the geographic Southeast, and there is Sumlin in Texas (along with the standard recruiting machine of the Longhorns and those pesky Bears, Frogs, Red Raiders, et al).

 

Just wondering. College teams first need a good coach, obviously, but the long term success for college ball is recruiting, recruiting and more recruiting (seems to me). Any AD worth his salt, especially those at large, highly leveraged institutions, have to be thinking they are one bad, very expensive buyout away from disaster.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @badbadhoggie 

 

Made me laugh.  

 

Perhaps Gruden is a vampire... which would explain why no one can get a picture of him while he's visiting the local Sizzler with School X's athletic director.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

TravisChumley
TravisChumley

 @BonzaiB He doesn't recruit, he has even said he doesn't want to. That being said, I don't think he would have to try as hard as most new coaches given his name and reputation, and the super bowl ring, that helps. It is a pipe dream for both schools anyway, he has  ties to Tennessee with his wife and he gives a speech or two there every year, and has in-laws close to Knoxville. I am a Tennessee fan and I would take the risk in his recruiting ability, but it will literally probably never happen. The Gruden to Arkansas talk? That's just silly. I am putting in for Jim Mora Jr., I think he would be a good fit, Plus he's already beat that scumbag Lame Kitten so he would be welcomed by UT fans just for that.

Mith242
Mith242

 @John at MrSEC  Actually I was thinking he was more like Bigfoot.  I'm waiting for someone to show up with a mold of his footprint from his imported boutique shoes.  lol   But seriously, there really does seem to be a lot of smoke here.  But I'm still not holding my breath on Gruden leaving his ESPN job just yet.  Maybe he really will make a move this time.  But I just think Gruden likes hearing his name batted around by these schools. 

SevierVol
SevierVol

Travis, i agree that Gruden is an extreme long shot. I also believe he could initially recruit on name and reputation alone. If he is successful early,  the recruits would continue to come but if  improvement doesen't come quickly, there could be a problem. I think Gruden would be wise enough to hire a great recruiter or two and he could then finalize the deal. . If you don't aim for a big name, you are certainly not going to get a big name.   After tje last few years, it's okay just to sit back and  dream a little.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @TravisChumley Well, from a Gator, you boys can beat up on Lane every day, all day long and we will smile as you do it.....

TravisChumley
TravisChumley

 @SevierVol Don't get me wrong, Gruden is still #1 on my list, I just don't want to be all in and be too disappointed with someone else. I want to keep my list open to other people, I will say that after the press conference yesterday and with the mainstream coverage today, I feel more confident than I ever have in a home run hire and in Harts ability to make it happen. Sevier Co.? I love it up there, I live in Claiborne Co. on the KY, VA border. GBO!

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