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Chris Mortensen's latest news on coaching vacancies around the league.
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Gruden: Focus is on future with Raiders
Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden rejected an opportunity late
Tuesday night to interview for the Ohio State job, sources told ESPN.com.
Gruden's agent, Bob Lamonte, informed Ohio State athletics director
Andy Geiger of the decision around 11 p.m. ET, sources said.
Earlier in the evening, Gruden was at home in the Bay Area,
and not on a plane for Ohio, despite several reports of him en route to
"I have not talked to anybody from Ohio State," Gruden told
ESPN.com. "Actually, I just bought two guitars, one for Deuce (his
6-year-old son, Jon II) and one for me, and now I'm trying to get us
lessons so we can learn how to play 'em."
However, with a guitar strumming in the background, Gruden had "no
comment" when asked if Ohio State officials had been in touch with Lamonte.
Lamonte had dialogue Tuesday with Geiger, sources said. The initial
contact was made prior to Sunday's Oakland-Baltimore AFC championship game,
in which the Raiders were beaten 16-3 by the Ravens.
A source said Ohio State "came on strong" and made it evident that
Gruden was their top candidate, though there was never a formal offer. There
have been exploratory talks about a 10-year contract believed to be around
$1.4 million per year, although there is speculation the package could be
sweetened if Gruden showed genuine interest.
Gruden was too exhausted to consider the job as of Monday, but as
ESPN.com reported last week the Raiders recently exercised a two-year
option on his contract that now runs through 2002 for around $1.3 million
annually. The Raiders also have begun preliminary negotiations on a new
contract for Gruden, sources said.
Gruden, 37, has Ohio roots. He was born in Sandusky and played
quarterback at the University of Dayton. But he grew up a "huge fan" of
the Buckeyes, sources said, and has a "great appreciation" for the
tradition of Ohio State football.
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti visited the OSU campus Monday, but later said he is not interested in the job. It is not believed Ohio State will wait beyond this week to determine if Gruden is interested in replacing John Cooper.
Nevertheless, Gruden did say Tuesday night he was "focused" on his
future with the Oakland Raiders. He spent the early part of Tuesday meeting
with Oakland players, including veterans Rich Gannon and Tim Brown. He left
the office when he was bombarded with calls after it was initially reported
on ESPN.com that he was Ohio State's top candidate.
"This stuff got a little carried away," said Gruden. "The media had
me on a plane when Deuce and I were out looking for these guitars."
|Jon Gruden is staying in Oakland.||