Originally written on Awful Announcing  |  Last updated 11/11/14
Atlanta_falcons_v_64a3
Like clockwork, the yearly rumors of Jon Gruden's departure from the ESPN booth to coaching are starting up in full force once again.  In 2012, the sheer number of reports and rumors circling around Gruden have been more voluminous than ever before.  (Putting to doubt the "exclusivity" of that exclusive five year contract Gruden signed with ESPN, naturally.)  Everyone with a league source from the NFL to Pop Warner has Gruden returning to coaching next year. It's becoming more and more clear that Gruden will leave the ESPN booth sooner rather than later.  If this is indeed the last days of Gruden's ESPN tenure in the Monday Night booth, ESPN is already planning a successor.  From Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated, the leading candidate appears to be Trent Dilfer... "So what happens if Gruden bolts at the end of the season? SI.com contacted a half-dozen ESPN staffers on Sunday and Trent Dilfer appears to be the leading in-house candidate to replace Gruden. Steve Young would also get consideration.  "I'd actually be surprised to hear that Steve would want the job," said an ESPN staffer who has worked with both Dilfer and Young. "I'm pretty sure Trent wants it." [...] Dilfer served (perhaps endured is the better word) as the analyst alongside Chris Berman for the Chargers-Raiders season opener, and he also worked the Monday Night Football season-opening doubleheader in 2011. He's considered a rising star by ESPN's NFL production executives. Both Dilfer and Young are cerebral broadcasters, but Dilfer is thought to be the better fit in the booth as a game analyst. If Gruden goes, Dilfer would be a smart fit. He has a bigger long-term upside than Gruden because he's already willing to be critical of coaches and players when the situation calls for such transparency." Trent Dilfer would be a better fit than his MNF postgame counterpart Steve Young in the broadcast booth, but Dilfer didn't particularly impress me in his one appearance earlier this season.  Granted, Dilfer was working with Chris Berman, but he used a few bizarre analogies and generally got caught up in Berman's antics. Dilfer's smart, you can tell he knows what he's talking about, but the way he comes across on screen has never resonated with me.  Maybe it's a personal preference more than anything and he'd blossom working next to a pro like Mike Tirico.  At least with Dilfer, you'd be getting an analyst that would tell it like it is without showering unconditional love on everyone who moves to protect his possible return to the league that has been the hallmark of Jon Gruden's career. It's unfortunate that "this guy" and Gruden's effusive praise will be what he's most remembered for as an analyst.  His work at the QB camps and NFL Drafts were really good, but he couldn't quite make that next critical leap as a game analyst.  Instead of really developing into an elite analyst, Gruden has always protected his return to coaching. Honestly though, the best option for ESPN moving forward in a hypothetical post-Gruden world is Gruden's former analyst partner for multiple years - Ron Jaworski.  Jaws has the experience, the pedigree, and the talent.  He was moved to the studio to make room for Gruden this season, but it's clear ESPN and Monday Night Football would be better off with Jaworski in the long haul.  Nobody can break down X's and O's better for television viewers than Jaws. If Gruden does leave his media career behind, it's Ron Jaworski that should get the call to fly solo in the Monday Night Football booth.  Maybe that's the decision that should have been made all along. [Sports Illustrated]
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

49ers release Ray McDonald

Take your pick: Colin Kaepernick or Derek Carr

Report: Bears to bench Jay Cutler, start Jimmy Clausen

Jim Harbaugh to Michigan speculation building

Heat lose a key player with McRoberts out for rest of season

Belichick: Ryan is 'buttering me up' with Hall of Fame praise

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Marshall: Bears need to gel and do some kumbaya

Red Sox appear content with rotation despite lack of true ace

Iguodala gets technical for mocking Conley travel

Bo Pelini takes shot at Nebraska during introductory presser

Belichick: Patriots need to play better against the Jets

Rex Ryan doesn't want to get in trouble talking about Revis

12 candidates to replace Paul Chryst at Pitt

Brad Halsey claimed he was on cocaine for Bonds record HR

Wade Miley confident in health, diet after trade from D-Backs

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson lead in 2014 athlete Google searches

Max Scherzer next domino to fall in free agent market

Another "Fire John Idzik' plane flies at Jets practice

Four can't-miss match-ups in NFL's Week 16

Report: Some Browns shunned Manziel during pregame

Making an attempt to understand Celtics' priorities

Gronk makes awkward sausage joke on 'Top Chef'

Walmart ripped for confusing Anthony/Lin doll

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

Four can't-miss match-ups in NFL's Week 16

RG3 quits social media for season

Each NFL division’s MVP

5 NFLers who must step up in Week 16

Most impressive college hoops teams

Five reasons why FSU is going to win the CFB Playoff

Boxer admits to dive in Rourke bout

FCC heard about Brady's swearing?

Embracing the hate of the Eagles-Cowboys Rivalry

DeSean Jackson mocks Eagles

Andrew Hawkins defends shirt

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.