But in a season that has already seen two coaches fired mid-season, why wouldn’t Gruden ride out his time on Monday Night Football and wait for an NFL team to call?
Reports out of Miami indicate that “The U” is willing to give Gruden the same type of control that Pete Carroll had at USC, but it’s likely an NFL team would be willing to do that as well. The rumored deal for Gruden at Miami would pay him just under $4 million per season, but that’s much less than he could make in the NFL.
Gruden is a guy who essentially took two teams to the Super Bowl in the same season. Sure, Bill Callahan was the head coach in 2002 when the Raiders lost to Gruden’s Bucs, but Callahan got there with the team Gruden built.
After all that success in the NFL, why would he want to backtrack and coach a college program? This isn’t like when Butch Davis lost his job with the Cleveland Browns and wound up in North Carolina. Davis was a flop as an NFL head coach, so heading to a major college program made sense.
For a guy like Gruden, it’s a clear step backward.
Once the season is over, it’s likely the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, and possibly even better teams like the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans will be looking for new head coaches. And after the firings of Wade Phillips and Brad Childress, we know the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings will have vacancies.
Jason Garrett and Leslie Frazier appear to be the picks in Dallas and Minnesota respectively, but the other teams would likely be knocking down Gruden’s door willing to offer him anything he’d like. Any amount of money and control he could possibly want he could get in the NFL.
So again, it begs the question: why would Gruden want to take a pay-cut and head to the college game?
The likely answer is that Gruden is just hearing what Miami has to offer. But the reality of the situation is that they would have to blow him away if he’s going to leave the NFL behind. The most likely scenario is that Gruden is using their interest to drive up his price with the aforementioned NFL team — and it’s probably going to work like a charm.