In an interview posted by Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report on Thursday, Legendary former head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers revealed that he has been preparing himself to return to coach in the NFL. In the 8 years following him being fired by the Bucs in 2008, after back-to-back 9-7 seasons, Jon Gruden has been an analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. But that hasn’t stopped the speculation over the years of his return to coaching when a coaching job has come available.
“I’ve met with several people I won’t deny that just about every year I talk about coming back to coach. I’m not in here every day at 4:30 or 4:00 in the morning watching pinball, you know? I’m preparing myself to come back. I am. Every day. I’m preparing to come back.” He said in the 40-minute interview with Pewter Report. “It helps me in my broadcasting and I think if you lose that edge … you can’t come back unless you are totally wired with college football, personnel, schemes, the CBA, how people are practicing, trends, you know. You’ve got to stay on top of this stuff.”
Whether he means he has a strong desire to coach again, or that he is using that edge of preparing to come back as a tool to help him be the best that he can be at the job he currently has is unclear. In January, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Colts owner, Jim Irsay, pursued Gruden, but that he turned down the offer. However, it was also reported that Gruden denied any discussions with Irsay, saying that, “I know nothing, I’ve told people I’m not coaching, I’m a broadcaster, I’m not a coach.” And according to a report in USA today, Gruden has good reason to stick with broadcasting considering he makes $6.5 million a year, making him one of the highest paid on-air TV personalities.
When asked by Pewter Report whether or not he gets annoyed or flattered each time his name gets attached to a high profile vacant coaching slot he responded with, “I love ESPN, I mean I love what I’m doing. I’m with a great team – a great group of guys. I’m still real close to the game. I still stay in contact with a lot of players and coaches at the league at every level. I don’t know if it is flattering or irritating. I don’t really pay attention to a lot of it. But I am every year preparing myself to coach. Sometimes I show up at camp and I show up in the off-season and people let me coach. I jump in drills and they still let me install plays and call plays at some places. I still have a lot of fun.“I don’t know. I don’t know, Scott. Like I said, I’m very happy with what I’m doing. I haven’t lost the itch, though. I miss the players. I miss, I won’t deny that. I don’t want to start anything, but I say the same thing to everybody. There are very few passions in my life. The man upstairs, family and football.”
Back in 2015, before Jason Licht made Winston the number 1 overall pick, Gruden had the opportunity to work with him during his QB camp. Which could have sparked his interest to return to the sidelines, saying, “I would like to develop Jameis, who wouldn’t want to develop Matt Ryan or Jameis Winston, you know?”
While it is still mostly speculation at this point, Gruden has said that he has no desire to coach college football, so if a comeback happens it will be with the NFL. “I was very determined to be a college coach. Then I realized that if I became a college coach I would probably have you on probation within four or five weeks.Too many rules, man. I mean I like to work. I don’t like to be working 15 hours a week with players. The recruiting, Facebook, texting, e-mails, all that stuff. Yeah, I’d probably have you in real deep, deep trouble if I was your college coach.” He said during his interview.
After 11 years in the NFL, 95 wins overall and head coach during the Super Bowl XXXVII win with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it is no wonder his name comes up each year for an available coaching position, he would have a lot to offer a team if he chose to return to the NFL.
On August 2nd, Gruden will be addressing the media at a press conference at One Buc Place to discuss his induction into the Bucs Ring of Honor. His name will be illuminated and affixed to the upper deck at Raymond James Stadium during halftime of the Falcons/Buccaneers game on December 18th; an honor Gruden is humbled by. It will be the only ESPN Monday Night Football appearance for the Bucs this season.