Jon Gruden Floated as Reclamation Project for Elite College Program

jon gruden

Getty Former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

For a long time, Jon Gruden was considered one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL. He won a Super Bowl early in his head coaching career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but didn’t have much success after. Despite eventually getting fired by the team, he was handed a massive contract by the Las Vegas Raiders a decade later in 2018.

The adjustment to returning to the NFL was big for Gruden as the Raiders didn’t make the playoffs in his first three years back. It appeared he finally had the team in the right direction before a slew of racist, sexist and homophobic emails were leaked to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Gruden eventually resigned from the Raiders and watched interim head coach Rich Bisaccia lead the team to the playoffs.

It’s no secret that Gruden has an obsessive love for football. He’s even suing the NFL for how the whole situation with the emails was handled. However, if he wants to return to football in any capacity, he’s got some work to do. Fox Sports radio host Jonas Knox believes there’s a scenario in which Gruden could get a job. Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has been linked to the offensive coordinator openings for the Raiders and New England Patriots. Should he leave college for the NFL, Nick Saban will need a new offensive coordinator.

In the hypothetical situation where O’Brien lands an NFL job, Knox believes Alabama could possibly help Gruden repair his image.

“Now, all of the sudden, the Alabama Crimson Tide have an opening for an offensive coordinator,” Knox said of the hypothetical situation on 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe. “And it’s been known as the reclamation destination – like if you want to get your career back on track. … You look at Steve Sarkisian, you look at Lane Kiffin, you look at Bill O’Brien – there’s one career that definitely needs a reclamation, there’s one career that needs to be revived and that’s Jon Gruden. What about Jon Gruden offensive coordinator of the Crimson Tide?”

Co-hosts LaVar Arrington and Brady Quinn gave Knox some pushback and he eventually admitted that it probably wouldn’t happen but it’s certainly an interesting possibility.

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Would Gruden Consider Going to College?

Gruden’s made a lot of money from his days as a coach and ESPN analyst. He could easily just ride off into the sunset and forget about football completely. However, Gruden isn’t wired that way. He’s famous for having an intense work ethic and a love of the sport. It’s likely too soon for him to consider jobs right now but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he tried to make a comeback in the future.

College could be a smart play for Gruden. He’s too toxic for the NFL right now but there are a lot of college programs that might be willing to give him a chance. He has his faults as a coach but he’s a strong offensive mind and could actually be a good fit in college. His style of coaching could resonate better with young players than it did with veteran pros.

Would Alabama Touch Gruden?

Now, Alabama would certainly be an interesting landing spot. During Gruden’s last stint with the Raiders, he drafted Alabama players in the first round of three consecutive drafts. He clearly has a lot of respect for the program. As Knox noted, the school has been a landing spot for coaches in need of an image change.

That said, Gruden is a head coach and likes to have control of personnel. Will he want to play second fiddle to Saban? It’s hard to imagine he would. If he goes to college, the more likely play for Gruden would be to go to a smaller school as the head coach, build that program up and then get a job at a bigger program eventually.

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