Raiders reportedly hire ex-ref Gerry Austin, reuniting Jon Gruden with MNF teammate

Two-thirds of the "Monday Night Football" broadcasting crew is getting back together in Oakland to lead the Raiders back to prominence. 

After the Raiders began their offseason by hiring Jon Gruden away from ESPN as their new head coach, they recently lured away another member of ESPN's TV crew. No, the Raiders did not hire Mike Tirico or Sean McDonough or Ron Jaworski, all of whom shared the booth with Gruden during his career as a TV analyst. 

Instead, the Raiders have hired Gerry Austin as a consultant, according to ESPN's Mike Sando. 

Austin, a former NFL referee, worked on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" broadcasts as an officiating expert. Sando reported that Austin, 76, will now "advise Gruden on officiating matters, including replay challenges." Austin retired from officiating after the 2007 season, which ended his 18-season career as a referee. 

No word yet if Gruden is planning on bringing any other elements from his time at ESPN to Oakland -- like, say, his famous smoothies.

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ESPN

In all seriousness, a move like this does make complete and total sense. Gruden has been out of the NFL for a decade. The last time he was around, the rules were vastly different, and they continue to change even today -- from the new kickoff, targeting, and catch rules to the way the replay review process works. One of his biggest obstacles in his hyped return will be adapting to the new rules, from the rules that change the way teams practice to the rules that change the way the game is played. In that sense, it makes sense for Gruden to surround himself with an expert who has paid close attention to rule changes and replay reviews for the past decade plus. And if it helps Gruden use his challenges more wisely, then Austin will be a worthwhile addition to the staff. 

When Gruden got the job, he bemoaned the use of analytics in the modern NFL, which made no sense because analytics equal more information. However, Gruden did note that he planned on keeping people around him to advise him on such matters. 

This is exactly what Gruden is doing here. By hiring Austin as a consultant, he's allowing an expert to advise him in area that is a bit foreign to him. Remember, Gruden said two years ago that he wanted to abolish instant replay. Austin, whose post-refereeing career has been kinda dependent on instant replay, would probably disagree.

During Gruden's first stint in the NFL as a coach with the Raiders and Buccaneers, he challenged 181 plays. Seventy-one were overturned and 110 were upheld, according to Pro Football Reference, which means his success rate was 39 percent. For the sake of comparison, Bill Belichick has a success rate of 40 percent while Gruden's predecessor, Jack Del Rio, owns a success rate of 34 percent. One of the better challengers over the past several seasons is Doug Marrone, who has gone 12 of 21 (57 percent). So, Gruden falls somewhere in the middle.

Perhaps Austin can elevate Gruden from the middle to the top of the pack, and help him earn his $100 million paycheck.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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