Former Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden -- coveted by many owners in recent years but uninterested in returning to coaching -- would at least entertain the prospect of coaching the Rams, some of his former coaching colleagues believe, with that job opening offering virtually everything he would look for in an NFL position.
In the past Gruden has quickly rebuffed pro and college teams (the Raiders as well as Tennessee and Texas in the college ranks) who reached out to him, and NCAA jobs have held little appeal to Gruden, given the age of the players and the realities of recruiting. And he is well entrenched and deep into his contract with ESPN as the face of Monday Night Football.
But the time could be right on several levels, the ex-colleagues said, with Gruden, 52, providing the kind of resume, sizzle and persona to fit this Hollywood market and with the Rams already in a time of crisis, firing Jeff Fisher in-season less than a year after securing their move from St. Louis.
At the very least, they believe Gruden would be inclined to listen should the Rams reach out. Gruden lost his broadcast partner to another network earlier this year. NFL ratings are down, and while he has thrown himself into broadcasting, certain opportunities could not be discarded out of hand.
Gruden liked the Rams' quarterback, first overall pick Jared Goff, very much coming out of college, and Los Angeles has appeal to him. Owner Stan Kroenke knows he must spend to put a winning product on the field in that fickle football market, and in two years the team moves into world-class facilities. All of that would play well with Gruden. L.A. is in search of a quarterback guru and advanced offensive mind to lead the team out of its scoring doldrums (Fisher was a heavily run-oriented and defensive-minded head coach).
Furthermore, the Chargers are almost certainly joining the Rams in L.A. in 2017, and Kroenke needs to make a positive imprint there. Gruden has ties to Rams president Kevin Demoff from their time together in Tampa, and the two have a familiarity and respect.
Gruden wouldn't come cheap, but Kroenke also didn't fire his coach with three weeks left in the season merely to consider the latest hot coordinators for his opening, which many prospective head coaches have at the top of their want lists.