‘Fantasy’ football: Gruden declines to consider UT football coaching job
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jon Gruden was never presented with any contract or financial details to become the University of Tennessee’s next head football coach, according to a Friday report from http://VolQuest.com .
News broke late Thursday night when the Chattanooga Times Free Press, citing two unnamed sources, reported that Gruden had a lucrative contract offer in hand from Tennessee.
“We reached out to coach Gruden,” a university source told VolQuest Friday morning. “Coach Gruden, after visiting with his family, informed us that it was not a move his family wanted to make at this time. He declined to meet with Tennessee. Financial considerations were never discussed.”
VolQuest cited “some half-dozen sources” in reporting that Gruden had declined an offer to meet with Tennessee vice chancellor and athletics director Dave Hart this week, adding that “neither side ever got to a point where a financial framework was outlined.”
The VolQuest report, written by editor Brent Hubbs and senior writer John Brice, went on to say that “someone familiar with proceedings” called the Times Free Press report “irresponsible.”
Rumors of Gruden succeeding Derek Dooley, who was fired by Hart on Nov. 18, as Tennessee’s next head coach, have ran wild over the last two weeks.
Gruden, a former Super Bowl-winning coach in the National Football League and current ESPN Monday Night Football analyst, has East Tennessee ties that had him connected to the Tennessee opening.
Gruden got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant on Johnny Majors’ 1986 coaching staff. Gruden met his wife, an East Tennessee native, while he was on staff and she was a Tennessee cheerleader.
After staying quiet while the rumors circulated, Gruden’s camp finally cleared the air Friday.
Gruden’s agent, Bob LaMonte, disspelled the rumors in an interview with The Knoxville News Sentinel.
“I haven’t said anything (about the ongoing rumors) because there’s been nothing to say,” LaMonte told the News Sentinel Friday. “This, to me, is just a fantasy world.”
LaMonte went on to tell the News Sentinel he had spoken with Hart for the first time Friday.
“He just said there had been a lot of rumors and he just wanted to clear the air,” LaMonte said in the News Sentinel’s report. “I said, ‘Thank you for the call. I appreciate it.’ He said thank you and that was it.”
With Gruden out of the picture, other candidates considered in the hunt for the opening are Louisville’s Charlie Strong, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Miami’s Al Golden and North Carolina’s Larry Fedora.
Hart, in a press conference to announce Dooley’s firing, pointed to December as an important month in the process of finding a new coach.
“I think a lot of in the past, a lot of hires of this nature occur sometime in the month of December,” Hart said in the Nov. 18 press conference. “Very candidly, a lot of those coaches will be in New York City for the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. Some will continue to play into deep into the postseason. December critical month.”
The National Football Foundation’s Annual Award Dinner will be held Tuesday night.