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Friday, November 30, 2012
Vols moving on from Gruden

By Chris Low


Not that it was ever going to be Jon Gruden, but Tennessee is focusing its coaching search on other candidates after having some conversations with the former NFL coach and popular "Monday Night Football" analyst late last week.

There was some interest on both sides. But at the end of day, according to Tennessee sources with knowledge of the situation, Gruden decided it wasn't something he wanted to tackle at this point. Plus, the NFL has always been his most likely move if he returns to coaching.

"Coach Gruden has let us know that he's not interested, and we're pursuing other candidates," a Tennessee official told ESPN.com.

Some of the names believed to be on Tennessee's list include Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Miami's Al Golden, North Carolina's Larry Fedora, Louisville's Charlie Strong and UCLA's Jim Mora Jr.

There have been several reports that Gruden was offered a contract by Tennessee and was mulling over a lucrative offer. But on Friday, sources at Tennessee said Gruden was never offered a contract, and that talks never reached a point where specific financial parameters were discussed. Gruden declined a meeting with Tennessee officials, and the Vols are now moving on.

Gruden's agent, Bob LaMonte, told The Knoxville News-Sentinel on Friday that reports Gruden was mulling over a contract offer from Tennessee were from a "fantasy world."

Will the Gruden-mania that has engulfed the Big Orange Nation all of a sudden stop? Probably not, especially given the fervor pitch that it's reached.

Either way, it's a frenzy that hasn't done any favors to Tennessee's search process.