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Jon Gruden confirms the obvious: there’s ‘a good chance,’ he will coach the Oakland Raiders

By Rick Stroud
LOREN ELLIOTT | TimesFormer Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden looks on during his induction into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor at the halftime of an NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017.

Jon Gruden finally admitted what everyone has believed is true: he has interviewed for the Oakland Raiders' head coaching job and says "there's a good chance" he will take it.

Appearing on ESPN's Golic and Wingo show, Gruden said he had interviewed with Raiders principal owner and managing general partner Mark Davis.

It's been reported that Gruden will earn $10-million per season. The only hangup appears to be the Raiders have to fulfill the requirements of the Rooney Rule by interviewing a minority head coaching candidate.

Gruden was asked if he would be the next coach of the Raiders, who fired Jack Del Rio immediately following the season finale Sunday.

"That's up to Mark Davis," Gruden said. "I have had conversations with Mark. They're still, I believe, going through the interview process. When he knows, I think we'll all know. But I appreciate Adam (Schefter) and Chris (Mortensen)'s confidence that I have a chance of getting that job. It's awfully nice of them."

But Gruden made it clear he has been preparing to return to coaching and will take the job when all is said and done.

"I think there's a good chance," Gruden said. "I'm excited about where I am in terms of studying the game and preparing to come back and coach. I just don't want to speculate. It's almost like, uh, I don't know what's going to happen, Mike. I've got to be honest with you. It's been a long couple weeks. I know they've gone through their process of interviewing candidates, and until they're done, I won't know. But I did have a good meeting with Mark, I've known him a long time and got a lot of respect for the Raider football organization."

To get Gruden to leave a plumb job like the star of Monday Night Football, where he earns $6.5-million a year from ESPN plus endorsements, everyone knew it would take an enormous contract. However, Gruden debunked reports that he will receive a share of the Raiders ownership.

"There's no truth to that at all," Gruden said. "I heard Stephen Smith screaming at me on TV yesterday on one of his shows. There's no validity to that at all. None. Zero. That's a nice segment I saw, but no ownership, that's for sure."

Both Bucs and Gruden representatives have said they never discussed Gruden returning to Tampa Bay. That's pretty hard to believe and may be semantics. But it seems likely when the Bucs learned Gruden had agreed to coach the Raiders, perhaps Friday, they quickly informed Dirk Koetter he would return as coach in 2018.

It's been 10 years since Gruden has coached in the NFL and 16 years since he ran the Silver and Black. But he's a grinder and film junkie who has kept up on everything in his cave at the FFCA.

Gruden had leverage on every football team that wanted to hire him as coach over the past decade. But the Raiders and Bucs are the two teams that he is emotionally invested in. He was going to get one of those jobs, and it may not have mattered to him which one.