I’ve been a firm believer that Jon Gruden doesn’t need to return to coaching, despite the annual rumors that include his name. He has a great, well-paying job at ESPN and doesn’t have to deal with the day-to-day stress NFL coaches go through.
The caveat was always that maybe Gruden misses that day-to-day grind. He is a media superstar on “Monday Night Football,” but that can’t replace the thrill of winning an NFL game. And the only conclusion you can have after reading Gruden’s interview with Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds is that Gruden will coach in the NFL again.
The comments made to Reynolds don’t hide anything. Reynolds interviewed him in advance of Gruden’s name being added to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor in December, and Gruden’s quotes were almost startling in their transparency.
“I’m not in here every day at 4:30 or 4:00 in the morning watching pinball. You know?” Gruden said. “I’m preparing myself to come back. I am. Every day. I’m preparing to come back.”
Gruden said he loves ESPN. He gets paid very well. But he didn’t deny the job is a great way for him to stay connected to all levels of football in preparation for a return to coaching. He said he is “every year – preparing myself to coach.”
The entire interview is illuminating, and also makes clear that he wouldn’t return to be a college coach. There could be a couple of obstacles to an NFL return right away. His youngest son is entering his junior year in high school. It would make sense for Gruden to wait two more seasons until his son is ready to graduate. Also Gruden was very clear he wanted personnel control in his next job – “If I ever come back and coach I’m going to be involved a little bit differently in personnel,” he said – as he discussed regretting the Buccaneers passing on Brian Westbrook and Aaron Rodgers in the draft while he was their coach. Not every team would give Gruden that control or even could right now, depending on their front-office structure.
To leave ESPN, Gruden would probably need a perfect opportunity. That would presumably include a stable quarterback and personnel control. Gruden, according to many reports, turned down the Colts’ overtures to take their head-coaching job earlier this year. If he turned down that job and the opportunity to work with quarterback Andrew Luck, there can’t be many jobs he would take.
But based on Gruden’s latest interview with Pewter Report, there should be no doubt he’s looking. Now it’s just finding the perfect fit.
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