Arkansas Football: Jon Gruden Sweepstakes Begins as Razorbacks Reportedly Make Offer

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 19, 2012

For weeks, Tennessee had been the rumored landing spot for former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Super Bowl-champion head coach Jon Gruden.

But Arkansas has essentially been in the market since former head coach Bobby Petrino wrecked his motorcycle in April, and it appears that the Razorbacks are interested in the high-profile coach as well.

According to Jim Harris of, a site which recently (and unfortunately) closed its doors, the Razorbacks have made an offer to Gruden to become the team's next head coach:

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

— Jim Harris(@jimharris360) November 19, 2012

Consider it the official start to the Jon Gruden sweepstakes.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported over the weekend that Arkansas and Tennessee are both interested in securing the services of Gruden, and that Arkansas is ready to make him the highest-paid head coach in the SEC.

Gruden hasn't been a head coach at any level since the Buccaneers fired him after the 2008 season, has never been a college head coach, and his last stint as an assistant at the collegiate level came in 1991, when he was the wide receivers coach at Pitt.

The bottom line is, while Gruden has name-recognition and a flashy Super Bowl ring, he would be a big gamble for any college program based on, if for no other reason, his inexperience at the college level.

Don't consider Gruden roaming a sideline in 2013 a certainty, though.

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Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated reported on Sunday that Gruden could be staying with the "Worldwide Leader in Sports":

Via ESPN PR to SI/ on Jon Gruden rumors: "Jon remains committed to ESPN."

— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) November 18, 2012

So essentially, what we are looking at is an offseason battle for Gruden among Arkansas, Tennessee, ESPN and perhaps others at the collegiate and NFL levels. 

That certainly would explain La Canfora's report that Arkansas is willing to back up the Brink's truck to secure its next head coach.

Something tells me this race is far from over.