It’s Grumor time and — stop us if you’ve heard this one before — there’s a buzz about whether Jon Gruden might leave ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” booth and head back to the sideline.
There’s a college opening at Tennessee, which fired Butch Jones over the weekend, and there has been talk that Gruden might want to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team he led to a Super Bowl victory, if the 3-6 team fires Dirk Koetter. At least one longtime Tampa sportswriter thinks it’s not out of the question.
“I think Koetter’s got seven weeks to prove that this team is still buying what he’s selling,” Ira Kaufman told PFT Live. “The stands are half empty, and there’s a guy out there that has a lot of juice and can fill those stands . . . I’m starting to believe it for the first time, that Gruden’s coming back.”
Gruden, according to Kaufman, would prefer the NFL if he is to coach again. The other issue is that Gruden and Sean McDonough don’t have the same chemistry in the booth that Gruden had with Mike Tirico. Gruden also happens to live in the Tampa area and, according to Kaufman, he has high regard for Jameis Winston. There’s also the chance that he could coach with his son, Deuce, a strength coach on Jay Gruden’s Redskins staff.
Gruden addressed the talk, which typically sprouts around Thanksgiving, in an appearance Friday on “The Rich Eisen Show,” saying, “One of these days, you never know … I have talked to people [about jobs] in years past and I plan on just keeping my options open. … If something comes along down the road, I’ll take a look at it.”
This year, the Grumors grew a little earlier, though, popping up in late July when Gruden admitted to Pewter Report that he always talked about it.
“I’ve met with several people — I won’t deny that,” Gruden said. “People — just about every year I talk about coming back to coach. I’m not in here every day at 4:30 or 4:00 in the morning watching pinball. You know? I’m preparing myself to come back. I am. Every day. I’m preparing to come back.
“It helps me in my broadcasting and I think if you lose that edge … you can’t come back unless you are totally wired with college football, personnel, schemes, the CBA, how people are practicing, trends, you know. You’ve got stay on top of this stuff.”
Just days later, Gruden shot down those rumors he had so artfully floated, saying that “I don’t foresee myself coaching any time soon.”
Not that he has abandoned the habits of a lifetime in coaching. “I do like getting as close to the fire as possible. … All I really have going is football. I don’t know what I would do without it,” he said. “I’m happy with what I’m doing. I study as if I am a coach. I still make my own breakdowns. I still come up with my own playbook — I just don’t have anybody to give it to.”
Gruden, 54, has not coached since 2008, an awfully long time to be away from the sideline no matter how well he prepares.
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