Jon Gruden: Former Coach Should Turn Down Latest SEC Offers

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Former head coach of the Oakland Raiders and now ESPN Monday Night Football Analyst Jon Gruden looks on during pre-game warm ups before an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on November 18, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jon Gruden has an opportunity to get back into coaching, but staying where he is would be the smart decision.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, both Arkansas and Tennessee are interested in hiring the former NFL coach.

Both universities want Gruden, sources said, as they try to get back to being powers in the challenging SEC. The Razorbacks are prepared to make their next coach the highest-paid in the SEC, according to sources close to the program, and budget will not be an issue.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam -- a billionaire booster for the Volunteers, whose brother, Bill, just happens to be the governor of Tennessee -- has told several people that he loves Gruden and believes he would be a great fit at the school.

Either one of these options would be appealing. Both schools would be offering a lot of money and the prestige of playing in the SEC is always a draw.

However, a move would not be in Gruden's best interest.

As the commentator on Monday Night Football, Gruden makes a reported $4.3 million per year. He also has a segment called "Jon Gruden's Quarterback Camp," where he interviews incoming quarterbacks before the draft.

These appearances make him a household name among sports fans and allow him to be considered one of the top minds in the game. 

In addition, being a television personality is relatively stress-free, with few other people second-guessing your every decision.

Conversely, being a head coach requires around the clock work. Between game planning, studying film, practices and recruiting with these college teams, the effort required for the salary almost makes it worth much less.

It is also easier to judge others than to be judged.

Gruden also has little experience in the college game with only a few appearances as a wide receivers coach in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The culture change in going to the SEC could be eye-opening.

Instead, if the coach wants to return to the field, he would be better served doing it at the NFL level. His many years of experience as assistants and eventually as a head coach would help him succeed, like it did in the past.

Also, he would be able to use all of the information he learned from analyzing the league over the past few years. His knowledge of the game would allow him to join a team without a difficult transitional period. 

Finally, neither program would be easy to fix. Bobby Petrino left deep problems in Arkansas when he was fired, and Tennessee has not had more than seven wins since 2007. Considering how impatient these fanbases are, it would not be surprising to be on the hot seat in only a couple of years.

Gruden is currently in a good situation. Choosing to go to either Arkansas or Tennessee could end up being the worst decision he ever made.