The University of Tennessee is interested in hiring ESPN commentator Jon Gruden to fill its head coaching vacancy, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
The Volunteers thought they had their new head coach over the weekend, as the university had agreed to terms with former Rutgers/Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano. However, Tennessee backed out of the deal following backlash to the Schiano announcement, per Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports, who reports some of the adverse reaction was tied to Schiano’s reported involvement in the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal. (To be clear, Schiano was alleged to have seen Sandusky “doing something” in a shower, but was never charged with a crime or sued, and the rumors are largely viewed as hearsay.)
Tennessee has in fact discussed its head coaching job with Gruden, and are open to a deal that would pay the Super Bowl winning coach $10MM annually, per La Canfora. Gruden has never been a head coach at the collegiate level, but he did work as a graduate assistant for the Volunteers from 1986-87 and his wife is a former Tennessee cheerleader.
Sources tell La Canfora that Gruden may prefer an NFL job, and a reunion involving the Buccaneers could be possible if Tampa Bay fires incumbent Dirk Koetter. Indeed, some Tennessee boosters don’t believe a deal with Gruden is realistic, especially given that the college has pursued Gruden without results in the past. Still, Gruden didn’t rule out a return to coaching when the subject was broached earlier this month.
Gruden isn’t the only coach with NFL ties that appears to be on Tennessee’s radar, as the university has also expressed interest in Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers.
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