Friday, November 30, 2012
Vols spoke to Gruden, but that's it
By Chris Low ESPN.com
Tennessee's search for a new football coach is not focused on Jon Gruden, multiple sources close to the school's search process told ESPN.com on Friday.
There were discussions among the two sides late last week, but Gruden informed Tennessee officials after talking with his family that it was a move he didn't want to make at this time, according to sources.
"Coach Gruden has let us know that he's not interested, and we're pursuing other candidates," a Tennessee official said.
Bob LaMonte, Gruden's agent, told The Knoxville News Sentinel on Friday that reports Gruden had received an offer from Tennessee were from a "fantasy world."
"Jon has made it clear he's committed to ESPN," LaMonte said.
Gruden, who started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee under John Majors in 1986, has become the rage among Vols' fans, many of whom were hoping the former NFL coach and popular "Monday Night Football" analyst would leave the broadcast booth and take on the challenge of resuscitating Tennessee's program.
The Vols have suffered through losing seasons in four of the past five years and are looking for their fourth coach in six seasons after firing Derek Dooley toward the end of this season.
The whole Gruden frenzy only escalated after several reports surfaced recently that Gruden was mulling over an offer from Tennessee.
On Wednesday, Gruden appeared on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike In The Morning" and said there was "no truth" to a report by Memphis television station WREG that he was considering an offer to coach the Vols that also would give him part-ownership of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are owned by Jimmy Haslam, the son of Tennessee's most prominent booster, Jim Haslam, who is the founder of Pilot Oil.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Friday morning that Gruden was extended a lucrative offer by Tennessee and that there was no firm deadline for him to make a decision. That report said a possible holdup could be whether Gruden received enough money to assemble the staff he wanted.
However, multiple sources told ESPN.com that Gruden was never offered a contract and that specific financial parameters were not discussed when Tennessee officials talked with him last week.
"We never sat down and scheduled a meeting. Coach Gruden declined a meeting," a Tennessee source told ESPN.com. "Financial details weren't discussed because it never got to that point."
Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart is expected to meet with potential candidates next week in New York City at the College Football Hall of Fame ceremonies. Some of the names that have been mentioned as possibilities 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.