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Grumors won’t die: Gruden to Tennessee still alive
- Updated: November 28, 2012
Grumors, Grumors, and more Grumors
They just won’t die. Which is one reason why I believe Jon Gruden to Tennessee is still in play. But it’s not the main reason. I’ll make you wait just a bit for that. First, though, I’ll say this: I’ve been all over the board on the Grumors which have taken our fair city by storm. When the Grumors initially surfaced, I was more bullish than most. I can’t remember the exact timeline, but my Grudometer shot up to 55% fairly quickly. As in I gave UT a 55% chance of landing Gruden. Then everything got awfully quiet for a while and my Grudometer plummeted to 33% thanks largely to Erik Ainge who’d come right out and told his radio audience one Monday morning (was it after the Bama game?) that the Gruden thing wasn’t gonna happen.
I have two main friends with whom I discuss all things Vol — knowledgeable, impassioned fans who make up the esteemed Basement Braintrust — and the three of us discussed the diminishing-Grumors situation at great length. Which is when I wondered aloud if perhaps someone hadn’t intentionally fed EA some bad info in hopes of getting the Grumors to die down a bit. I mean, hell, Dooley hadn’t even been fired. In fact, at that point, he was far from it. (At least officially.) The last thing the powers that be needed was for there to be a spotlight shining on the one key figure with whom they were trying to secretly negotiate.
It wasn’t too long after that when Ainge started referring to himself (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) as a potential smokescreen. These self-calls (a) suggested he was having a change of heart despite what he’d heard and (b) propelled my Grudometer back up to 50%, even if the Grumors weren’t quite as strong as they had been.
But the only thing about the Grumors that wasn’t as strong were the flames. The coals were burning hotter than ever. Because all it took was a small gust of wind to again make those flames dance, this time higher than ever before. More comically, too, as evidenced by the grainy photograph which placed Gruden on UT’s campus. And let’s not forget about the Webb School sighting, either, okay? Because that was epic.
No. Of course I didn’t believe either of these. (Did anyone?) But the fact that the Grumors wouldn’t die was enough to push my Grudometer back to it’s original high of 55%. And it steadily rose from there, eventually peaking at 75% during a party I attended on the Friday after Thanksgiving where many a Vol faithful stood around an outside fire discussing the Grumors for hours on end.
The next day, however, I went to the Kentucky game and heard something that I won’t get into except to say that it served as a sledgehammer to my Grudometer. The Grudometer which suddenly read ZERO. I shared what I’d heard with the Basement Braintrust, and though they were initially dismayed, their Grudometers remained largely unaffected. They tried to pump life back into mine, but the needle wouldn’t move.
Then something funny happened. I posted the following last night on the AVY Facebook page:
Okay — so ESPN is reporting that Arkansas has offered Les Miles 27.5 million for 5 yrs to become their coach. They’re clearly not messing around. We better not be messing around, either! Honestly? I love the audacity of it all. Kinda like, “Yeah, whatever, we know you’ve got a sweet deal, but here’s what we got. You in or out?” We need a quarter cup of that, no?
The thread that ensued was my favorite that’s ever materialized on the AVY page. One gentleman, a man who consistently leaves great comments (which we really appreciate), had this to say:
Arkansas is sending a message, although maybe an unrealistic message, that they’re not messin’ around. We need to hear something like this to give the fans a boost of confidence! If Gruden has been offered, we need to hear some details from the AD so we can stop all the speculation and put some of these crazy Grumers to rest! If he hasn’t been offered, we want to know why!
Shortly after, the same guy followed with this:
Ok, so 50 mins after my last post, ch 8 is reporting that “Jon Gruden has a contract in hand. Details at 4:30.” Dave Hart must read your blogs and he acted quickly after seeing my comment. That’s the only reasonable explanation, right?
So, first, of course. The only reasonable explanation is Dave Hart’s feverish dedication to AVY. But, second, the story he was referring to is the one that broke out of Memphis which most of you already know by now. The one that claims that Gruden has an offer in hand from UT. An offer that includes the alluring carrot of part ownership of Jimmy Haslam’s Cleveland Browns.
Gruden was on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning today and was asked point blank about the story. His answer can be heard by clicking THIS LINK. With it, he denies the specific story, but he never fully slams the door on the potential of him coming to UT. (Seriously, click that link. It’s like 60 seconds and you’ll be interested to hear Gruden’s tone as well as how he immediately forces the conversation to Monday Night
The Cleveland Browns also issued a statement on the story which includes the following quote from Neil Gulkis, their Vice President of Media Relations:
“Jimmy Haslam has no involvement in the University of Tennessee head coaching search, and the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous.”
UT commented, too. Well, sorta. Athletic department spokesman Jimmy Stanton said: “We won’t talk about any of the dynamics of the search until it is finalized.”
So what does all that mean? I’ll let you decide for yourself. But I’ll tell you what it means to me: my Grudometer is back up to 50%. No. It’s not as high as it was before the Kentucky game. But it is well above where it was. Essentially, I think it’s a coin toss. It might happen. It might not. But you know what else my Grudometer is reading? 100.
Because I’m 100% convinced that Gruden is still in play.
As mentioned, one reason is because the Grumors refuse to die. But the other reason is the one that got my Grudometer as high as 75% to begin with. The one I was barking to any and everyone standing near me around the outside fire on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The reason I heard others cite on the EA Show this morning as I drove into the office.
Tennessee would be KILLING itself to let these Grumors continue to spread if UT knew for a fact that Gruden wasn’t coming. Because I’ve never seen this town lathered up like this before. It’s beyond Gonzo, y’all. It’s flat-out Gruden or bust. Hell, at this point? Bill Belichick would be a shitty hire. How do you think, I dunno, Butch Davis would fare in the wake of this Grudon fest we’ve got going on? What about Charlie Strong? How ’bout (wait for it…) Al Golden?
Seriously. If these Grumors continue to spread like wildfire – if they continue to dominate every message board, call in show, blog post, water-cooler conversation and fireside chat…if they continue to be powerful enough to warrant questions from ESPN radio hosts and statements from NFL executives, yet are never flatly denied by UT and it turns out that Gruden isn’t the man? That Gruden never was the man? That UT just remained mum because they thought doing such would lend the most integrity to the search that didn’t yield Gruden?
That’d be about the lamest PR move you could ever possibly pull. In fact, it would make the Butt Chugger press conference look like a stroke of genius. But not only that, it’d be about the worst thing you could ever possibly do for the man who does wind up becoming UT’s coach.
Which is why I’m certain that if Gruden to UT weren’t still a possibility, then the powers that be would have issued a statement by now. They would have, I dunno, dialed up Peyton and had him do a 30-second PSA saying something like: “Hang, tight, y’all. We’re on it and it’s gonna be a great hire. But it’s not gonna be Gruden and you need to get good with that.” Because that type of direct communication from someone we trust is about the only thing that could get the Vol nation to take a deep breath and stop this insanity.
But that’s NOT what’s happening. Instead what we got today was essentially “no comment.”
Which is exactly why Gruden’s still in play.
At least that’s what I think. What do you think? Where’s your Grud-o-meter?