Haden: If Gruden coaches, it's in the NFL

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
8:00
AM ET
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders currently have a head coach under contract in Dennis Allen. Jon Gruden currently has a gig and seems more than happy sitting in the broadcast booth for a little show called “Monday Night Football” on ESPN.

And yet…

None of it is enough to keep the denizens of Raider Nation from screaming for the return of “Chucky” to the Silver & Black, no matter how far-fetched the idea may seem. Especially with it being revealed Wednesday that Gruden may – or may not – be interested in returning to the sideline.

USC athletic director Pat Haden appeared on Dan Patrick's radio show Wednesday and revealed that in his search for a new coach he reached out to Gruden about talking over the Trojans, before hiring former USC assistant (and one-time Raiders candidate) Steve Sarkisian away from Washington to replace the fired Lane Kiffin (remember him, Raiders fans?) and interim coach Ed Orgeron.

Gruden''s response?

"He wants to coach in the pros," Haden told Patrick. "If he's gonna coach, he wants to be a pro coach."

Ambiguous enough, right? At least, as far as it regards the Raiders, who, again, have a coach in Allen who many believe deserves at least three years to put his imprint on the team.

Still, some Raiders fans were already banging the drum, as they were last season after Gruden appeared at the O.co Coliseum to light the Al Davis torch in a pregame ceremony.

Gruden obviously holds a special place in their hearts after compiling a 38-26 record and two division titles between 1998 and 2001 – his last game with the Raiders was the Tuck Rule Game in New England -- before beating Oakland with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Coincidentally, the last game he coached was a loss to the Raiders, on Dec. 28, 2008, a defeat that knocked the Buccaneers out of the playoff race.

“We had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and JaMarcus Russell took it to me and ended my career,” Gruden told Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game earlier this season. “The greatest day of my life was winning the Super Bowl against the Raiders, and the worst day ever [was losing to them].

“Look at me now.”

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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