This may be the most outlandish Jon Gruden coaching rumor yet.
WREG-TV in Memphis, Tenn. reported Tuesday night that the ESPN NFL analyst has an offer on the table to become the next head coach of the University of Tennessee with an interesting twist. According to the report, Gruden would be getting an ownership stake in the Cleveland Browns as part of the deal and a decision could be made as early as Wednesday.
New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam attended Tennessee and is a booster of the program. His father, Jim, played on the offensive line for the Volunteers in the early 1950s, including the 1951 National Championship team. The Browns owner also is a major Tennessee booster.
The report does bring up a potential road block to this ever coming to fruition. Gruden may still be owed money from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from his time as head coach that ended with his firing in 2008. Apparently the league is looking into the conflict of owning a part of one team while potentially still getting paid from another franchise.
Here’s another possible hiccup. According to John Infante, who worked as a NCAA compliance officer at Colorado State University and ran the Bylaw Blog for the NCAA website, NCAA rules would prohibit this transaction unless the ownership stake was first gifted to the University of Tennessee. He says there is no rule prohibiting coaches being involved with pro teams but rather the issue has to do with outside compensation.
This deal seems a little too ridiculous to actually come together in the end. But with SEC football, there seems to be no limit to the distance schools will go to try and put the best possible team on the field. So maybe it’s not completely out of the question after all.