Regardless of whether Jon Gruden accepts a reported offer to become Tennessee’s next head coach, he has the endorsement from his former coaching mentor.
Legendary Vols coach Johnny Majors, who Gruden worked under as a graduate assistant, told Saturday Down South that Gruden would be an ideal candidate for Tennessee and called him “one of the best coaches I’ve ever had.”
“Good coaches can coach anywhere and at any level,” Majors said. “Gruden has the energy to coach at any level and he could handle being successful in recruiting. There would be no adjustment for him as smart as he is and as determined and dedicated as he is.”
According to 247Sports’ Grant Ramey, Tennessee athletic director John Currie made a pitch to Gruden on the coaching job in Tampa on Wednesday. The report also includes another important piece of information: that Tennessee gave Gruden a deadline on a potential decision, and that Tennessee could shift attention to Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen when that deadline passes.
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.
The former Super Bowl champion’s past ties to the Tennessee football program have led many Vol fans to believe he would eventually return to Rocky Top, as he’s been linked to the position several times over the past decade.
Gruden began his career as a graduate assistant with the Vols under Majors in 1986-87. His wife, Cindy, was a Volunteer cheerleader and his son, Michael attends UT.
The coach has previously referred to the head coaching position at Tennessee as a “dream job” on numerous occasions and expressed interest in coaching again on numerous occasions, despite downplaying the notion of coaching at the college level.
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.”
Gruden’s success at the NFL level and notoriety as Monday Night Football’s color commentator lead many to believe that he would be a home run hire for the Vols, despite a lack of coaching experience at the college level.