Jon Gruden is John Madden to an entire younger generation of NFL fans. He’s known to them as a game analyst who does Hooters commercials and the quarterback camp with the draft prospects, not as a Super Bowl winning coach who breathes fire. Like Madden, he’s become a brand concept, not a coach.
Gruden’s affable TV persona is a far cry from expletive laden sideline rants, and sideway scowls that made fans sincerely believe he would rip out someone’s jugular vein if it meant getting a favorable spot on a fourth down.
The reality is, few people LOVE football as much as Gruden. Even in his hiatus, he still gets up to break down hours of game film, everyday before the crack of dawn. Every time there is an opening at a major football program, his name is thrown into the gossip mill. But, with each year removed from the sidelines, his return becomes less likely. There comes a point of no return. Gruden is approaching that point, but he’s not there yet.
So, is “Chucky” gone for good, or just laying low for the right opportunity to return to the sidelines?
Today in The Herd, Colin said that if there is ever a year that Gruden would return to coaching, it’s this year. There’s already one elite job opening at NFL factory LSU, and likely openings at Texas and USC once the season ends. For the first time, he’s buying Gruden’s return as more than just a rumor.
“Jon Gruden, ESPN, he is the highest paid employee. And, I think it’s fairly well documented, I’m not going out on a limb here, they’re gonna try to cut his salary. And he makes a lot of money, and he’s not taking a pay cut. I’m just going to throw the name Jon Gruden out there. I think Jon Gruden, for about 7, $8 million would consider both USC and Texas.”
Colin has seen the list of potential candidates for the major program openings, and other than Houston Head Coach Tom Herman, they aren’t big enough for the room. With the exception of Jon Gruden.
“Look at the candidates, folks. Auburn, Oregon, USC, Texas, LSU. There’s one slam dunk candidate. You’re not gonna hire PJ Fleck at USC. You’re not hiring Larry Fedora for some of these jobs.”
If an AD under-fire is looking to make a “splash hire”, Gruden would be a positive PR Tsunami.
It’s hard to watch this classic post-game speech and not say some part of him is dying to get back on the sidelines.