Wednesday, October 24, 2012

0 Gruden to Tennessee?

By Shaee Flatt and John Lee
So either a deal between the University of Tennessee and Jon Gruden has been reached, or the Tennessee fan base is currently the victim of a very cruel internet rumor. Today around 3 p.m. eastern reports of Gruden to UT being official started to leak out through various social media outlets.

The story was first broke by the moderator “SpringBokVol” on VolNation who is thought to have a lot of credibility and inside sources to the program. At 2:44 Eastern the moderator posted the following “I have full confidence that an agreement has been reached. It’s done. Jon Gruden will be the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee.” This was followed shortly by Erik Ainge, Leonard Little, and Donta’ Stallworth catching wind of the “breaking news” Little and Stallworth quickly retreated, by asking if someone could confirm for them, but they clearly heard something. The fan base quickly erupted and started a posting frenzy which actually caused the site to crash for a few minutes. The buzz is everywhere right now and there is too much going around for this to be nothing at all. The story is all over twitter as well, coming from all sorts of angles, I don’t know if it’s a “done deal” but something is happening, it seems. Even with all the buzz neither Gruden himself, nor UT Athletic Director Dave Hart has denied the reports.

The Vol Nation has been in a “Gruden Frenzy” for two weeks now, starting with “The official Jon Gruden Thread” on (Check this out, it’s epic) which hit 15,000 posts before being replaced by “The official Jon Gruden Thread II” which quickly hit 15,000 more posts, and has now been replaced by “The official Jon Gruden Thread III”. In the third Gruden thread you can find people posting videos of fireworks, huge explosions, people hitting home runs, girls belly dancing, and even Derek Dooley himself giving the “Gruden hire” a subtle “Boom.” The thread and the fan base have spiraled out of control.

Several media outlets in Knoxville have quickly shot down the rumor. Wes Rucker, Brent Hubbs, John Brice, etc. denied the rumors when asked, but what else could they say? I doubt the Athletic Department they work for would let them break the story even if they knew, considering Dooley hasn’t officially been fired yet, but maybe that’s just me.

For some who may not know, Gruden was rumored in each of Tennessee’s last two coaching searches as well but apparently “had demands that UT couldn’t meet”, according to Rucker. He began his coaching career in Knoxville as a graduate assistant and is well documented in giving former Tennessee coach Johnny Majors a lot of credit for his knowledge of the game. He also famously married a Vol cheerleader, and already owns land in East Tennessee. Thus, the rumors begin that he wants to coach the Vols, only this time, they might come true.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “Derek Dooley hasn’t even been fired yet.” And you would be correct, he hasn’t. However, many believe that Dooley and staff have already been notified they will not be back, and a formal announcement could come either Sunday, or Monday of next week. The hope is that a Gruden announcement would follow shortly after, possibly on the next addition of Monday Night Football. So mark it on your calendars, Monday Oct 29, Dooley fired, Gruden hired. Or so they say.

So let’s assume for the sake of this Vol fans heart, that the rumors are true, and think about what this would mean for the once proud football program in Knoxville. Firstly, Gruden would bring elite talent to Knoxville without even trying. His name and Super Bowl ring alone would bring the talent to Tennessee. Recruiting wouldn’t be an issue. He was a good, not great, NFL coach in my opinion, but if you can be “good” in the NFL, you should be able to be absolutely great in college. A slight turnaround could come fairly quickly if he could convince Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, and Cordarelle Patterson to stay put before entering the NFL Draft, but to think he would guide them to the top in year one is probably a stretch. The Vols go on the road to play the top 3 teams in the current AP Poll next year (Alabama, Florida, Oregon) while also facing teams like South Carolina, and Georgia. The schedule is brutal, and the Vols would probably be happy to pull out eight wins next season, even if Jon Gruden is on the sidelines. The future however, would be very bright for Tennessee. Gruden is a football maniac, if anyone “eats, sleeps, and breathes” football, it’s him. You can tell this just by the way he can break down coverages, explain offenses, etc. during ESPN’s Monday Night Football telecasts and his annual “Gruden’s Quarterback Camp” before the NFL Draft. With Gruden at the helm, it wouldn’t be a ridiculous to think that the Vols could be competing for SEC and maybe even National Championships within the next 3-4 years. He would have talent to match anyone’s, and not many college coaches are going to out coach Jon Gruden, especially if he has more talent.

If these rumors are true, SEC take notice. Tennessee is finally on its’ way back, baby.


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