I'm not sure you've heard this name in the University of Tennessee's coaching search, but I'm going to throw it out there anyway.
Why not? I know, I know ... nobody has even discussed the possibility of Gruden coming to Knoxville. But the Monday Night Football announcer and former Super Bowl winning coach would like to get back into coaching, and he has ties to UT and owns land in Jefferson County. All of this is new news and Earth-shattering stuff, right? Well, it's all true. GRUDEN, BABY!! YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!
All jokes aside, you're living under a rock or really don't care about football if you haven't attached the name "Gruden" to UT coaching rumors. The fan base is in a frenzy for him. Half of us are convinced he's all set to become the next coach and have his statue alongside General Robert Neyland in the stadium. The other half of us don't think there is any chance it'll happen.
Message board rumors have him already signed, sealed and delivered. Media types are being more reluctant, and in some cases, even shooting down hopes. The "Gruden Or Bust" mentality of the entire fan base is borderline insanity and unhealthy for the program if the Vols and the longtime NFL lifer can't reach an agreement.
We pretty much all want it to happen ... save a few outliers. There are positives, and there are definite negatives as well -- negatives we'd like to have to worry about in the end.
One thing is certain: If UT hires Jon Gruden, it would have an immediate, positive impact on recruiting. As we've been saying for weeks, a Gruden hire would pay for itself in advertisements, endorsements, merchandise and fan interest. That by itself is all you need to hire him [something I'm still afraid won't happen.] But when you throw in the rock-star possibilities Gruden's name would carry in the recruiting world, the payback would be through-the-roof.
Chattanooga Times Free Press writer Stephen Hargis -- who told us just a couple days ago just how much Derek Dooley and his staff dropped the ball in recruiting -- comes back with another strong piece from talking to the state's top prospects at the Mr. Football Banquet in Murfreesboro.
Basically, the best players for the future raved about the possibilities of UT hiring Gruden, and even kids who don't have the Vols on their radar this year such as Jalen Ramsey and Corn Elder said they'd listen.