The University of Tennessee is gathering their big guns in order to persuade Jon Gruden back into the ranks of coaching. According to Channel 3 News in Knoxville, the university has a contract offer to Gruden and a decision could come as early as today. The most interesting part of the contract is not the years or the money or the incentives for post season play, but what is attached as a sort of bonus for the former NFL head coach.
According to the report, included with the contract would be a piece of ownership in the Cleveland Browns. If you remember, the Browns were recently purchased by Jimmy Haslam III who is one of the University’s biggest boosters. His father of the same name was member of the UT National Championship teams in 1950 and 1951.
The only foreseeable problem that UT might run into is that Gruden is STILL owed money by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from when he departed in 2008. That could potentially be a violation if Gruden were to get part ownership of one NFL team while getting paid by another. Plus, there is a lot of NCAA red tape to go through and I am sure new rules will be put into effect as this deal could be a game changer in the way that Universities go after head coaches.
Although Gruden has turned down many coaching positions since he left Tampa Bay, this job opportunity just keeps getting sweeter. He was once an assistant at at UT in 1986, his first stop on his coaching tour. While there, he also met his wife so Gruden definitely has the ties that could bring him back to Rocky Top.
From what we have seen and heard from Gruden, this could go either way. One thing is for sure, Tennessee is throwing everything they got at the coach. Also, after it has been reported that Arkansas is offering Les Miles 5 years, $27 million, I would hope Tennessee doesn’t “low ball” Gruden.
Low ball is in quotes for obvious reasons.
According to Cleveland.com, the Cleveland Browns have denied their owner, Jimmy Haslam III, of having anything to do with the Tennessee head coaching search.
“Jimmy Haslam has no involvement in the University of Tennessee head coaching search, and the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous,” read the statement, released by Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis.
Also, Gruden denied being offered a part of the Browns this morning on Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN.
Only time will tell…