Jon Gruden is reportedly “farther along” in talks with Tennessee about its newly vacant coaching gig than ever before, according to former Vols insider John Brice.
In a blog post on Monday, Brice detailed the departure of former coach Butch Jones, as well as athletic director John Currie’s first football coaching search. The discussion turned to Gruden, who has been linked to Tennessee numerous times in the past given his personal ties to the university, but has ultimately spurned the Vols each time.
However, things are reportedly much more serious during the current coaching search:
“The overtures to Jon Gruden, a Super Bowl champion coach, the NFL’s most recognizable broadcast voice and one-time UT assistant coach in the 1980s, are very real and much further along than at any point in any of Tennessee’s previous courtships to the mega-star football mind,” Brice wrote.
“Six different sources, ranging from current coaches to former all-time great Vols to college administrators, in the past 72-96 hours tell me that Gruden is far more seriously considering this Tennessee offer than ever before; so much so that Gruden is making some preliminary calls to coaches and other college athletics folks about potentially joining him in Knoxville.”
USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin and Appalachian State linebackers coach Dale Jones, both former Tennessee football players, are likely the assistants Brice referred to in the post, according to TennTruth.com‘s Zach Ragan.
Former Tennessee wide receiver and current Knoxville radio host Jayson Swain also confirmed hearing reports of Gruden reaching out to former Vols for assistant coaching positions through his own sources on Monday.
Both Swain and Brice reported that Gruden is expected to return to the Knoxville area for “meetings” this upcoming week. Brice noted that it would be the third time that the former Super Bowl winning coach has been to East Tennessee in “the past few weeks.”
Gruden, who is currently working as the color commentator on ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage, could also face a potential large pay cut, according to Volquest’s Brent Hubbs.
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.