The saga involving ESPN analyst Jon Gruden and the Tennessee Volunteers' head coaching position sounds like it's finally coming to an end. Multiple reports state that Gruden has decided to take himself out of the running.
Jimmy Hyams, a Knoxville radio host for WNML, reports Gruden has informed Tennessee he's not interested in taking the job. The former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach had conversations with the school last week.
Jon Gruden is out as UT candidate. Informed UT recently after phone talks last week. UT never offered contract, source said.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) November 30, 2012
It's backed up by Mike Freeman of CBS Sports. He reports Gruden has indeed talked with Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart, but decided to pass. Freeman previously said the 49-year-old coach's goal is to return to the NFL.
Reported earlier this week Gruden would speak with Tennessee AD. He has and source close to Gruden confirms he told the Vols no thanks.— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) November 30, 2012
Gruden is always a popular name when a head coaching position becomes available at both the pro and collegiate levels, but he's been able to resist the urge of getting back on the sidelines. At least so far.
He had a connection with the Volunteers, serving as a graduate assistant for the team during the late 1980s. This caused these latest rumors to start getting more attention over the past week, but it turns out Gruden doesn't want the job.
He would have been a good fit for Tennessee.
Gruden's high-profile status would have helped him on the recruiting trail, and his track record as a coach speaks for itself. He won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in 2003.
Now, Tennessee athletic director David Hart must shift his focus elsewhere with hopes of finding somebody else for the job in the near future. Hyams says it will likely be another week or two before an announcement, as the AD conducts more interviews.
UT athletic director Dave Hart will continue to interview candidates in New York next week. We expect announcement betw december 6-10— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) November 30, 2012
Even though Tennessee wasn't able to land Gruden like many fans were hoping, it's good that the distraction is eliminated. The longer the rumors continued to swirl about him, the tougher it would have been to attract other candidates.
Assuming the reports are true, Hart can now move forward with the process with an open mind.
The Volunteers job is still coveted, so he should have no shortage of solid choices as he seeks somebody to get the program back on track.
At least for now, Gruden will continue his Monday Night Football duties.