ESPN showed its commitment to Jon Gruden as a Monday Night Football commentator in February, when they took Ron Jaworski out of the booth, converting their broadcast to a two-man team with Gruden and Mike Tirico.
Gruden, however, may not be as committed to ESPN as they are to him.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, Gruden told HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel last week that he “will come back” to coaching in the NFL if the right opportunity presents itself. While Gruden seems perfectly content in the booth for MNF, these comments indicate that Gruden eventually wants to be back on the sidelines.
If that is the case, Gruden could soon find an opportunity that fits him, as he is a respected, Super Bowl-winning coach. An interested Gruden should be a top candidate for any NFL head coach opening.
But in addition to Gruden, there are other former head coaches who could be in line to make a return to the head-coaching ranks in 2013:
Rumors of current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci considering a return to the coaching began to surface in April, when he was linked by CoachingSearch.com to the opening at the University of Arkansas, following the firing of head coach Bobby Petrino.
Nothing ever came of that rumor, but Mariucci told CBSSports.com that he has not ruled out returning. Therefore, even though Mariucci has not coached in the NFL since 2005, it is not unreasonable to speculate that coaching could be in his future.
If he returns, it will most likely be at the college level, but if he does make a decision to return to the NFL, it will be interesting to see whether any NFL teams offer Mooch the right opportunity.
Herman Edwards’ week-long speech series on SportsCenter in July, in which he gave pep talks to NFL teams he does not actually coach, looked like a desperate cry from a man who wants to return to the sidelines.
Edwards was a head coach for eight NFL seasons from 2001-2008 and has since worked an analyst for ESPN. Edwards had four winning seasons and is a knowledgeable football analyst.
Granted, Edwards has not publicly expressed interest in returning to coaching, and there may be no interest from the other side, either. While he knows the game well, he did not do enough in his NFL head-coaching career to establish himself as someone worth coaxing back into the fold almost five years later.
Butch Davis’ best on-field success as a head coach has come at the collegiate level. However, his most recent collegiate coaching stint at North Carolina ended in scandal, as he was fired amidst an NCAA investigation for improper benefits and academic misconduct.
Davis, who coached the Cleveland Browns from 2001-2004 and is currently serving in a consulting role with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) that he wants to return to coaching.
Davis may want to be a college coach again, but given his association with scandal at the collegiate level, his best bet may be to find an assistant coaching job in the NFL. He is unlikely to garner any interest as an NFL head coach, but he certainly has the resume to earn a job as an assistant.
Which of these coaches are most likely to be back in the NFL in 2013?
Green has not coached in the NFL since 2006, but he has spent the past three years coaching the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. Now, he is suing the Mountain Lions for failed payments, but it is well within reason to believe his next step will be to look for an entry back into the NFL.
Green had great success in his first stint as an NFL head coach with the Minnesota Vikings, leading them to eight postseason appearances in 10 seasons. His second NFL coaching gig with the Arizona Cardinals, however, was unsuccessful, as the Cardinals lost two out of every three games he coached over a three-year span.
Green is 63 years old, and his career as an NFL head coach is likely over, but considering he has been working at the UFL level, coaching as an assistant in the NFL could be in his future.