Gruden Makes Arkansas Coaching Search Even More Interesting


Apr 28, 2011; New York, NY, USA; ESPN analyst Jon Gruden during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Fayetteville, Ark. – Which reports are Arkansas Razorback fans supposed to believe? The report from Arkansas sports personality Bo Mattingly (The Buzz) that TCU head coach Gary Patterson will accept the Arkansas job, rumors that Mike Gundy wants out of Oklahoma State and in as the Hogs’ new coach, or Arkansas beat writer Jim Harris’ report that the Razorbacks have offered former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden?

Of the three head coaches that have received the most circulated attention for the Arkansas job Jon Gruden, which is a long shot, actually seems like the most feasible as the next Top Hog in Fayetteville.

Gary Patterson has built TCU up from the ground floor. He is the program’s all-time winningest coach and the Horned Frogs are finally in a BCS conference. Word is he and his wife, Kelsey, are putting the finishing touches on a $3.2 million home in the Dallas area.

The other deterrent is TCU’s 6-4 record. Excuses can be made for why Patterson’s team has not performed as well in their first year in the Big 12 but how excited will Razorback Nation be accepting a coach that is hovering at or around .500 come season’s end.

Mike Gundy throwing his name into the Arkansas head coaching pool really seems laughable from an outside perspective. Speculatively, Gundy is playing a power game with Oklahoma Athletic Director Mike Holder. Word is Gundy does not like Holder and vice versa.

Gundy could leave OSU and is rumored to want the Razorback job or the University of Tennessee job that came open as of Sunday. The reality is oil tycoon and prominent OSU booster T. Bone Pickens will not let the most successful Cowboys’ coach in school history walk away. Gundy stays, Holder prays.

This leaves Jim Harris’ Twitter feed on Monday stating that the Arkansas Razorbacks have offered Jon Gruden the head coaching position.

With all of the possible openings come the end of the 2012 college football regular season, if Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long pulls off this coup by hiring Gruden he should run for governor for the state of Arkansas; he would win in a landslide.

Gruden is currently an ESPN NFL analysis and a commentator on Monday Night Football. He was last seen on the sidelines in 2008 scowling at the opposition and tearing up NFL referees as a Super Bowl winning head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003).

Gruden’s college experience was limited to a role as graduate assistant for University of Tennessee from 1986-1987, passing game coordinator for Southwest Missouri State in 1988, and wide receivers coach in 1989 before being hired by the San Francisco 49ers in 1990; and per commercials a hot wings cook at Hooters.

Rumors have long held that Gruden wanted to stay out of coaching until his youngest son finished high school in the Tampa area. Jayson Gruden is about to graduate making Gruden a free agent head coach for not only college teams but a handful of pro teams that seemingly would be very interested in his services including the Philadelphia Eagles and maybe the Dallas Cowboys.

Other rumors that have floated around includes Jeff Long announcing the new head coaching hire within a week to two weeks after the Razorbacks’ regular season is finished. The John L. Smith experiment will come to an awkward close on Friday Nov. 23.

Who will be the next head coach at Arkansas? Only a handful of long shots have been pushed out there for Razorback Nation to choose from. Will a “Long” shot come out of nowhere? Only time will tell. One can assume that Jeff Long would not make an offer to a coach if there was not mutual interest going into possible contract negotiations.

The final wildcard in the Gruden battle is ESPN. Will the World Wide Leader in Sports let one of their most successful and well liked commentators ever leave Monday Night Football?