Jon Gruden: Latest Speculations on Tennessee, Arkansas and Return to Coaching

Alex KayCorrespondent INovember 18, 2012

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers directs play against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on November 30, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Jon Gruden, the colorful analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football program, is beloved for his incredible in-depth insight, brilliant football mind and uncanny ability to explain complicated terminology and plays to casual viewers.

For many of the same reasons that he is regarded as a top-notch announcer, he is respected for being an even better coach.

UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 19 at 3:05 p.m. ET by Tim Daniels

Jim Harris of reports sources have told him that Arkansas has already made an offer to Gruden. The Razorbacks are one of several teams to show interest in the coach turned broadcaster.

My sources say Arkansas has made an offer to ESPN pro analyst Jon Gruden.

— Jim Harris(@jimharris360) November 19, 2012

It's a pretty wide-open report. If true, the Razorbacks would be potentially opening the flood gates in what's likely to become a sweepstakes to land Gruden should he decide to entertain offers. The situation is still very much in the preliminary stages, though.

---End of update---

He compiled a record of 95 wins and 81 losses during an 11-year head-coaching career that started in Oakland and included a Super Bowl victory in 2002 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After being fired back in 2009 by the Bucs, Gruden made a seamless transition to broadcasting. Since he is still a relatively young man at just 49 years old, there are many college and NFL organizations that believe he still has an itch to return to the sidelines.

According to CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the Arkansas Razorbacks and Tennessee Volunteers are two of the latest programs to express interest in the former coach.

Gruden, nicknamed “Chucky” for his crazed expressions, reddish features and resemblance to the famed horror-film doll, has rebuffed numerous offers to return to the sidelines over the past three years, but rumors abound that he may be interested in joining the college ranks.

La Canfora’s sources noted that Gruden has reached out to potential staff members and has been discussing issues such as recruiting and other unique aspects to the NCAA game.

Gruden’s experience in college football is extremely limited, working as a graduate assistant at Tennessee from 1986 to 1987, as a quarterbacks coach at Southeast Missouri State in 1988 and a wide receivers coach at the University of the Pacific in 1989.

He jumped to the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers in 1990 before returning to college with the Pittsburgh Panthers in 1991.

After that season, he made it back to the pros, joining the Green Bay Packers organization and staying in the NFL until being relieved of his duties back in 2009. Gruden has no head-coaching or major assistant experience at a reputable FBS school, and this would be unfamiliar territory for the Ohio native.

If Chucky were to accept Arkansas’ reported offer to make him the highest-paid coach in the SEC, or the challenge of resuscitating the UT football team, it’s being rumored that he would install a fast-paced spread offense like the one Chip Kelly is running at Oregon (per La Canfora).

Gruden is apparently considering bringing in his former defensive coordinator in Tampa, Raheem Morris, to take up his old job—should he accept one of the many offers on the table.

As of right now, this is all speculation and rumors, but don’t be surprised to see Gruden become a college head coach if he leaves ESPN’s broadcast booth following the 2012-13 NFL season.