During his “Outkick the Coverage” blog on Monday, FOX Sports’ Clay Travis predicted that the Vols have a “at least a 50-50” chance to hire Jon Gruden as their next head coach.
“I believe that Jon Gruden is at least 50-50 to be the next coach at the University of Tennessee,” Travis said. “Let me say this — I will not believe it’s going to happen until he actually steps up to the rostrum and the podium and says he is going to be the next coach of the University of Tennessee.”
Travis backed a previous report that Gruden has reached out to potential assistants while mulling over the Tennessee job, according to multiple sources.
“I have talked to multiple people who know, I can tell you this beyond a shadow of a doubt, Jon Gruden has been calling assistant coaches and asking if they would come to Tennessee if he took the Tennessee job,” Travis said. “That is incontrovertibly true. I have heard that from four different people who are well plugged into the situation.”
Gruden, who has never served as a head coach at the college level, went 95-81 during 13 NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders (1998-2001) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-08), which included leading the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory during his first season.
During a broadcast of Monday Night Football last month, the former coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden teased a potential return to coaching by saying “boy I miss coaching.”
While it’s likely something he’s said numerous times during his nine seasons in the booth, it’s more notable now as he’s slated to be the odds on favorite to replace Butch Jones as the Vols’ next head coach.
Gruden’s past ties to the Tennessee football program have led Vol fans to believe that the former Super Bowl winning coach could possibly take over on Rocky Top.
Gruden began his career as a graduate assistant with the Vols under Johnny Majors in 1986-87. His wife, Cindy, was a Volunteer cheerleader and, as several Twitter users pointed out, his son apparently attends UT.
The Monday Night Football broadcaster has also referred to the head coaching position at Tennessee as a “dream job” on numerous occasions and expressed interest in coaching again, although he’s also downplayed the notion of coaching at the college level.
On Monday, WZTV in Nashville shared a video from 2014 of Gruden discussing the Tennessee coaching job and the subsequent “Grumors” that follow every time the Vols have a vacancy.
“That’s probably my wife’s mom and my wife’s brother starting those rumors,” Gruden said. “I love Tennessee. My middle son is going to go to Tennessee and be a Volunteer, I believe that and I’m always going to be a Volunteer and always going to be a big fan.”
We’ll have to see if there’s any truth to Gruden making a return to Rocky Top in the coming weeks.