So much for the five year extension to his ESPN television deal. According to a report out of San Diego, the one time Super Bowl Champion coach, Jon Gruden, has decided to return to the sidelines for the 2012 season. The question is where will he land?
Stephen Ross, the Miami Dolphins owner, wants a name to run his team and no coach outside of Bill Cowher has that kind of name. More because of the face time on television than the winning on the sidelines. Gruden won his only Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Bucs, using a team primarily assembled the year before by Tony Dungy. He beat the Oakland Raiders, a team he had assembled the year before, prior to being traded (yes traded) to the Buccaneers.
Gruden never got back to the big game and is often downplayed as a Super Bowl winning coach because of the existing team he inherited in Tampa Bay. Could he be the coach that Stephen Ross goes after? Rumors persisted last season that Gruden was on a short list of coaches that Ross was eyeing. He of course never came out of the booth to interview. Reportedly asking for over 5 million a year to coach any team.
Gruden has stated that he would consider coming out of the MNF booth for a “storied” franchise gig. So far, only the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs hold coaching vacancies in what could be considered “storied franchises”. Jacksonville is the only other current opening but that will change come Black Monday, a week from yesterday.
As many as ten teams could be looking for a new head coach a week from now. The loser of the NY Giants/Dallas Cowboys game next Sunday night may axe their coach. St. Louis is expected to fire Steve Spagnuola as is Norv Turner in San Diego. Raheem Morris in Tampa is on the hot seat, as is Leslie Frazier in Minnesota (despite comments to the contrary by owner Zygie Wulf). In Indianapolis, HC Jim Caldwell could join the rank and fired, Washington may still opt to fire Mike Shannahan, and questions still abound with Andy Reid in Philly, Chan Gailey in Buffalo, and Lovie Smith in Chicago.
If the Dolphins want a high profile coach they may need to act fast. If they want an up and coming assistant like a Rob Chudzinski, they may need to act faster. Traditionally, ex-head coaches are slower to agree to terms with a new team as they tend to know where they want to go, assistants will normally take the first opportunity under most circumstances. For all the rhetoric of joining a Stephen Ross / Jeff Ireland run football team, opportunity and money play a bigger role than names. Stephen Ross is about to put his finger on this franchise and it starts a week from today.
Now that Jon Gruden has officially tossed his name into the ring…it could get interesting very quickly. Teams can not hire new head coaches until the end of the regular season. The Dolphins should have a new HC in place within two weeks.