The University of Tennessee is again interested in hiring former Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden as its next head coach, sources said, reaching out to the current broadcaster to explore his interest in the job. Sources said school officials have discussed the matter with him, with Gruden a top target for the Volunteers.
Part of securing Gruden for the position would include luring former Volunteers quarterback Tee Martin back to Tennessee to serve as a chief recruiter for Gruden, according to sources, and the deal, if reached, would be worth upwards of $10M per season for Gruden, with another $8M per season reserved for the salaries of his staff. Gruden has resisted the urge to coach in college in the past and some close to him believe he would prefer to land an NFL job if he is to return to coaching, but the Tennessee job has a particular allure to him, according to some close to Gruden, and his wife was a former cheerleader at the school.
Some Tennessee boosters are skeptical a deal will be reached given their failure to land him in the past, and he could very well end up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or another NFL team despite the interest from Knoxville, but he is very much still in the mix for the job. Tennessee officials have interest in some current NFL coaches as well, sources said, and would like to get this matter resolved in short order, with recruiting battles on the horizon, though Gruden remains under contract with ESPN for multiple years. The ability to procure him from that contract, midseason, is a matter of some debate, but is not out of the question, according to sources.