As soon as Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer stepped aside, speculation began swirling that Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden could wind up coaching at the school.
Gruden was a graduate assistant coach at Tennessee for two seasons, 1986-87, his wife attended school and was a cheerleader at Tennessee, and so it’s natural for some to try to connect the dots. Gruden’s bio at Wikipedia.com already has a line that reads, “Currently being linked with the Tennessee Volunteers coaching position as Phillip Fulmer tenure is coming to a close.” Former NFL head coaches -– Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier –- even have migrated back to the SEC.
In fact, one of my bosses at NFL Network emailed Monday with the news that Fulmer had agreed to step down, saying, “This is Gruden’s job.”
But in talking to those that know Gruden well, I’m not buying. Not one bit. When one person in regular contact with Gruden was asked about the possibility of the Buccaneers coach taking the Tennessee job, he responded, “Zero percent chance!”
This makes sense. Gruden recently signed an extenstion that runs through 2011. Even if he wanted to get out of his contract –- which there has been absolutely no sign he does -– the Buccaneers might not let him leave. He likes his team, he likes Tampa and even if a small part of him would like to wind up in Knoxville, he is not leaving Florida now.