Slow Down Tennessee Fans, Jon Gruden Isn't Coming to Knoxville Just Yet

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 25, 2012

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon GrudenAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Day follows night, sunrise follows sunset, and Jon Gruden is mentioned in prominent college football coaching searches.

Even ones that haven't officially begun yet.

The latest "next landing spot" for the former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders is on Rocky Top.

Just one problem, though—Derek Dooley is still the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers the last time I checked.

Rumors kicked into overdrive on Wednesday night, when several message boards reported that Gruden to Tennessee was, essentially, a done deal.

Let's pump the brakes on that speculation and recognize it for what it is: message board speculation.

To further the speculation, someone with savvy Internet skills pointed the URL HireJonGruden.com to point directly to the Tennessee athletic department website.

Nicely done, even if it is premature.

While it's certainly possible—and perhaps even probable—that Gruden becomes the next head coach of the Vols, Tennessee is not going to hire a head coach when it currently has another one under contract.

Auburn tried to do that with Bobby Petrino in 2003, and it played a part in Auburn almost losing its Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS) accreditation.

Don't discount the possibility of it happening this go 'round, though, because the two have a history together according to Wes Rucker of GVX247.com.

REMINDER: Last time Vols had an opening, Jon Gruden was contacted. He was very interested. Money wasn't close.

— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) October 25, 2012

Gruden has a good gig going as the color analyst for ESPN's Monday Night Football. He signed a five-year "exclusive" extension with ESPN in 2011, but the terms of its exclusivity is up for debate.

The door isn't shut, but Gruden seems to be the cult hero for every program with an opening every offseason despite not having coached a game at any level in four years and never as a head coach at the college level.

But the Tennessee job, assuming that it opens up at some point, would be attractive to Gruden. He is familiar with the program after serving as a GA with the Vols in 1986 and 87.

Despite the rampant speculation, hold off on anointing him the next king of the Vols' football program. "This guy" named Derek Dooley still has the gig, and he's got a pretty big game this weekend on the road at South Carolina.