Originally written November 28, 2012 on Crystal Ball Run:
They call the college football coaching carousel the “crazy season,” and they call it that with good reason: From the time the first coach is fired, straight up until the last one is hired, college football basically turns into one big high school cafeteria. Rumors all of a sudden become fact, innuendo becomes iron clad, and the only person’s word you can trust is… well, no one’s actually. Still, as crazy as it gets, there is still the occasional rumor that is so far-fetched, so stunning, so gosh darn hard to believe, that everyone agrees on one thing: “There’s no way that can be true.”   One of those rumors popped right after midnight on the East Coast Wednesday, involving the ex-NFL head coach of everyone’s dreams, Jon Gruden. It seems like just about every college program with an opening right now has their eye on Gruden, and each seems willing to top the last to get him. Apparently though, the University of Tennessee has gone above and beyond everyone else, and has and not only offered Coach Chuckie the standard fare of cash, cars and women (well at least the first two, anyway), but also… …are you ready for this?... … Part ownership in an NFL team!!!! It seems too crazy to be true, until you remember that one of Tennessee’s biggest boosters is a guy by the name of Jim Haslam, who also happens to be the owner of the Cleveland Browns. And apparently he wants Gruden so bad, he’s even willing to hand over a piece of Brown pie to get him. The news was first reported by News Channel 3 in Knoxville. Here’s their report: Knoxville, TN-News Channel 3 has learned former NFL coach Jon Gruden has a contract offer in hand from the University of Tennessee and a decision could be made as early as Wednesday. Part of the offer is Gruden getting a piece of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who were recently bought by Jim Haslam, one of UT’s biggest boosters who played on the Vols’ national championship teams in the early fifties. He’s also the father of Tennessee governor Bill Haslam. A potential hangup could be over money Gruden may be owed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from his stint as head coach there that ended in 2008. The NFL is looking into the conflict of owning part of one team while getting money from another. Gruden is currently working as an NFL analyst for ESPN. He started his coaching career in 1986 as a graduate assistant at Tennessee where he met his wife, a former UT cheerleader. Gruden’s two head coaching stints in the NFL were with Oakland and Tampa Bay. He coached the Bucs to a Super Bowl win in the 2002 season. Again, this all seems to be too crazy to be true, until you start putting the puzzle pieces together. Since it became clear a few weeks ago that Derek Dooley would no longer be back at Tennessee, Haslam’s name has come up as one of the big kingmakers in Knoxville. Haslam- whose son is actually the governor of Tennessee- might not have the clout to name the next head coach, but he did have the cash to lure a big name, such as Gruden’s to town. Now we’ll see if Haslam is able to put his money where his mouth is. If the report is true, Gruden should make some sort of final decision on Tennessee by Wednesday. Our hunch? Gruden is a lot more likely to be in the ESPN booth next season calling Browns games, then in the ownership box watching them. For all his opinion, insight and analysis, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.
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