As the winter solstice approaches, the United States is guaranteed of two things: 1) Not seeing daylight again for quite some months and becoming depressed due to Vitamin D deficiency; and 2) Hearing another rumor concerning Jon Gruden becoming the next head coach at “X” football school.
This time around, school “X” happens to be the University of Texas. Earlier this month, former Longhorns head coach Mack Brown stepped down from his position, stating, “It’s time for me to move on and let someone else come in and restart the program.” As to why he chose to step down, Brown said, “”There’s just too many distractions, too many negatives out there. And the players and assistant coaches shouldn’t have to deal with negatives about me. That’s not healthy for our place. This university is so much bigger than any one person.”
It has been one week since Brown decided to announce his decision to leave Texas, and it is somewhat surprising that it took this long for Gruden to be rumored for the position. Since Gruden was fired from his last coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he has been rumored for almost every open position in football, be it college or the NFL. Some of the schools Gruden has been associated with include Miami, Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, Tennessee, Arkansas, the Washington Redskins, the Oakland Raiders, the Houston Texans, and now the Texas Longhorns.
ESPN says Jon Gruden of ESPN is a candidate for the Houston job pic.twitter.com/676yWuVyAJ
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) December 6, 2013
Instead of being courted by the school itself, though, it was apparently Gruden, himself, who expressed interest in the position. According to OrangeBloods.com, Texas’s college sports page run by Rivals, a “high-level” source reported that Gruden was open to hearing about the position from the university: “It’s Austin. It’s not like any other city in Texas, or anywhere, really. It’s a destination, but with the state capitol, the university, the politics and the media, it’s the eye of a hurricane,” stated the source which broke the news.
The same source would go on to state that “It’s no secret that every major position that comes open stirs Gruden rumors. The reason why the talks never go anywhere is because there are definitely two, maybe three, situations he’s always said he would have to listen to. When Texas calls, you gotta listen. At some point, well, the bottom line is – there are only a few places where everything just fits.”
As it currently stands, Gruden has yet to respond to these rumors. Despite former Gruden-coached quarterback Rich Gannon adding fuel to the fire by stating that Gruden “…still has the desire to get back and do [coach] at some point,” Gruden has stated that his attention is focused on his career at ESPN: “I’m just trying to do my job. I’m not going to address every little rumor or supposed conversation that takes place, according to these so-called sources. There are a lot of good coaches out there available to coach these teams. I’m just hoping ESPN likes the the job I’m doing. That’s my focus.”
With Gruden staying mum on the matter, the most important question to ask is if Texas should be courting Gruden for the position in the first place. Due to his success and fame acquired through appearing on national television during Monday Night Football broadcasts, Gruden has become a coaching legend, of sorts. However, his record demonstrates that he was an okay coach, at best. Gruden was fired from Tampa Bay in 2008 after going 45-51 following his Super Bowl win with the team in his first season as their coach in 2002.
Before he won the Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, Gruden only won 38 games in 4 seasons with the Oakland Raiders. While this success was unusual for the ever-plagued Raiders, it was not exceptional for an NFL coach. If one wants to take a look at Gruden’s collegiate success, one has to travel all the way back to 1991, when Gruden was a receivers coach for the University of Pittsburg.
While Gruden would most likely be a good fit for Texas in regards to handling the media attention and scrutiny, the size 15 boots he would have to fill in one of college football’s Meccas is likely too large for a man who has spent his last 5 years in the broadcasting booth and hasn’t coached college football in nearly 25 years.
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