Former NFL head coach Jon Gruden, who has been the subject of speculation about a return to coaching since he left the profession after the 2008 season, considers coaching at the University of Tennessee a dream job.
"I don't know how close," Gruden said Thursday when asked if he was close to accepting the UT job when it opened after the 2012 season. "I love football. I'll be the first to tell you, I miss coaching. But I do look at my job here as a lot like coaching. I get a chance to be around it 364 days a year and I feel like I'm improving, but I don't have a team. Tennessee is a dream job for a lot of people, me included. Timing wasn't right. I'll say this about the Volunteers, they got the right guy. I think Butch Jones is going to put the Volunteers back on the map. It might happen this year."
Gruden was a graduate assistant at UT in the mid-1980s, which has fueled occasional speculation about him returning to the school. Gruden saying that the "timing wasn't right," suggests, at least, that there was interest from either the school, and Gruden declined, or interest from Gruden.
Although Jones' team struggled last year with a 6-6 regular-season record before a 45-28 TaxSlayer Bowl win over Iowa, an offseason that saw UT reel in one of the nation's top signing classes has the Volunteers' fan base expecting much more in 2015. UT also returns one of the most talented quarterbacks in the SEC in Josh Dobbs, although compared to other conferences, that might not be saying much.
Gruden's name has routinely popped up for various pro and college coaching jobs since he left the Buccaneers after the 2008 season, but it seems as though a return to coaching for Gruden never gets past the flirtation stage.
It might never again, but coaching moves happen in the winter, not the summer.
Give it four months, and Gruden speculation will be back -- just probably not at Tennessee.