John Gruden has reportedly been considering a jump from the broadcast booth back down to the sidelines for either an NFL or college gig, but the current rumors that he would coach the Tennessee Volunteers football program and get paid in Cleveland Browns ownership stock is ridiculous and untrue.
You may be wondering how Chucky, the Vols and Cleveland connect, and that is through Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
The founder of Pilot Flying J travel centers was born in Knoxville and attended the University of Tennessee, and was thought to have some interest in acquiring Gruden as a coach for the Browns.
If that didn’t work out, he’d help out his alma mater by giving ownership stock to the Super Bowl-winning coach in return for his services at UT.
According to Gruden himself on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning radio show (h/t ProFootballTalk), there is absolutely no truth to the rumors.
The Browns also released a statement to deny those reports. According to club VP of media relations Neal Gulkis (h/t NFL.com):
Jimmy Haslam has no involvement in the University of Tennessee head coaching search, and the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous.
That leaves little room for interpretation, which will put to rest the rampant rumors that Gruden would potentially receive NFL ownership shares in order to coach a collegiate team nearly 500 miles to the south.
Would it have been wise for Haslam to offer Gruden Browns stock to coach Tennessee?
We’re sure that Haslam loves the Volunteers and is widely known to be a major booster for the program, but giving ownership to a coach that has been working Monday Night Football broadcasts since 2009 isn’t the wisest idea.
Heck, we aren't even sure Buddy Garrity would support such an act of "boosterism."
John Gruden is likely to come back and eventually coach in the near future, and the cost for his expertise is going to be steep, but it’s likely going to be in cash—not ownership shares of an NFL franchise.