Get ready for the latest installment of Jon Gruden comeback talk.
Only this time, rather than reports of interest that never result in a return to the sidelines, the star coach-turned-broadcaster seems to be putting the word out there himself.
In an extensive sit-down with Scott Reynolds and Trevor Sikkema of PewterReport.com, Gruden explained he’s in constant preparation for another lead job in the NFL.
“I’ve met with several people – I won’t deny that,” Gruden said of the annual reports on team interest. “People – just about every year I talk about coming back to coach. I’m not in here every day at 4:30 or 4:00 in the morning watching pinball. You know? I’m preparing myself to come back. I am. Every day. I’m preparing to come back.
“It helps me in my broadcasting and I think if you lose that edge … you can’t come back unless you are totally wired with college football, personnel, schemes, the CBA, how people are practicing, trends, you know. You’ve got stay on top of this stuff.”
Gruden first rose to coaching stardom with the Oakland Raiders, leading the club to a 38-26 record and a pair of playoff appearances over four seasons from 1998-2001. A blockbuster trade sent him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to the 2002 campaign, and his addition would take the club over the top en route to the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
He’d go on to coach a total of seven seasons with the Buccaneers, posting a 57-55 record and making three playoff appearances before being fired after the 2008 campaign and promptly landing a color commentary gig on Monday Night Football. Now heading into his ninth year on the job, he’s unquestionably one of the most recognizable and highest-paid broadcasters in the sporting world.
The coaching carousel so often making its way back to Gruden only to have nothing materialize understandably generates a feeling that the such rumors are only floated as leverage plays against ESPN. But for as much as he may enjoy what he’s doing on the TV side of things, his passion for coaching is still abundantly clear.
“I love ESPN,” Gruden said. “I mean I love what I’m doing. I’m with a great team – a great group of guys. I’m still real close to the game. I still stay in contact with a lot of players and coaches at the league at every level. I don’t know if (all the talk) is flattering or irritating. I don’t really pay attention to a lot of it.
“But I am – every year – preparing myself to coach. Sometimes I show up at camp and I show up in the offseason and people let me coach. I jump in drills and they still let me install plays and call plays at some places. I still have a lot of fun.”
The PewterReport piece indicates Gruden is simply biding his time and staying involved in the game until the perfect situation presents itself.