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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Jon Gruden could return to coaching next season



ESPN analyst and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden could be back on the sidelines as early as next season.

Gruden has decided to return to coaching in 2012, and ESPN, which signed Gruden to a five-year, exclusive contract earlier this year, is already planning for his departure, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.

According to the Union Tribune's Kevin Acee, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke plans to fire head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney after the season. Then, if San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos fires GM A.J. Smith, Kroenke will hire Smith, who will bring Gruden along as head coach.

There is also the chance Smith could stay in San Diego and hire Gruden to replace Norv Turner.

Read the full story here.

ESPN, for its part, says Gruden "remains committed to being a part of Monday Night Football for many years.''

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 3:27pm]


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