Let's get one thing clear—Jon Gruden returning to coach the Oakland Raiders is as likely as Gruden saying something negative on a Monday Night Football broadcast.
Yeah, sure, it could happen, but we all know it won't. And while it would make sense for Gruden the analyst to cut with a sharper edge, I can't see how Gruden the coach returning to Oakland is the logical move for anyone involved.
And yet, there have been rumors linking Gruden to the Raiders.
Seeing as there have also been rumors linking him to a slew of other potential NFL coaching vacancies, every big-time college program and probably your local high school team, it's hardly surprising to find that the Raiders have been added to the mix.
The rumors came from Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly, who mentioned to WSCR-AM in Chicago that the Raiders and Gruden were engaged in talks to bring the ESPN analyst back to Oakland (via Dan Bernstein of CBS):
The Raiders swiftly and adamantly denied the rumor (via Kareem Copeland of NFL.com):
Members of the media: There are two people on this planet that have the ability to make talks happen between Jon Gruden and the Raiders, with regard to him allegedly taking over the football operations, and/or the position of head coach. Each of those individuals, owner Mark Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie, wanted me to communicate that this rumor has no validity whatsoever.
Well, alrighty then.
First of all, why would Gruden want to return to Oakland? He left the team to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a fact the fans won't magically forget. Most NFL fanbases are impatient, but I have a feeling the Oakland fanbase would have an extreme level of impatience for Chucky should he fail to succeed early on.
Besides, this Raiders team isn't very good—plain and simple. The team's top player is an injury-prone running back. The team lacks a future franchise quarterback. The defense is awful.
If Gruden wanted an all-encompassing rebuild, he could coach the Cleveland Browns, the team he grew up rooting for. However, I have a feeling he'll want a high-profile gig with a team that actually has some pieces in place, and I'm not sure the Raiders are that team.
With that being said, Gruden may legitimately want to stay in broadcasting. He's making pretty good money with ESPN, and it's certainly a less rigorous job than being an NFL coach.
Besides, is Oakland going to simply dispose of Dennis Allen after just one season?
Yes, the Raiders have lost five games in a row. No, Allen didn't inherit a playoff roster. This is an organization in a state of flux, and I think Allen deserves more than a single season to prove he can guide this team.
All of this adds up to the odds of Gruden returning to the Raiders being somewhere between slim and none. I'm guessing we'll hear Chucky say a few negative things on a broadcast before we ever see him return to Oakland.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets have never said a negative thing about anyone. Also, Jon Gruden made me say that.