Jon Gruden appeared close to becoming the University of Miami football coach Tuesday night, with various reports saying the former Bucs coach would meet with athletic director Kirby Hocutt today in Tampa to hammer out the final details.
After Randy Shannon was fired Saturday night, Gruden, 47, said he was happy as an ESPN Monday Night Football analyst and wasn't interested in the UM job. But behind the scenes, he apparently initiated contact to express interest — perhaps as early as a few weeks ago.
Website canesport.com reported that Gruden's brother Jay is expected to join him as offensive coordinator. The website said an announcement might come today.
The Miami Herald reported that, though Gruden has shown interest in the job, UM wasn't sure about whether he would take the job if offered. The Herald said Hocutt wants to determine that by today and that, contrary to Canesport.com's report, several trustees said the process has not reached that point of a deal being worked out with Gruden.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that Gruden contacted Hocutt weeks ago. Shannon was fired hours after Saturday's 23-20 overtime home loss to USF in which fewer than 27,000 showed up at Sun Life Stadium.
Hocutt had said he wanted a coach who would make Miami "relevant" again. The Herald reported that UM would pay in the range of $3 million, factoring in revenue his hiring would create. UM asked athletic department employees to piece together a plan to quickly put 2011 tickets on sale if Gruden is hired.
The Orlando Sentinel reached Jay Gruden's cell phone late Tuesday; he told the paper he was unaware of a deal.
"I'm sorry, but I don't have anything for you," said the younger Gruden, head coach of the United Football League's Florida Tuskers.
Hocutt said Sunday: "We will do whatever it takes to get back to the top of the college football world. And we are going to find the best individual in this country to come in …''
Florida's Urban Meyer makes a total package of $4 million. Florida State first-year coach Jimbo Fisher makes $1.8 million, and first-year USF coach Skip Holtz makes $1.7 million.
Gruden has college coaching experience, but not as a head coach. He was a graduate assistant at Tennessee (1986-87), quarterbacks coach at Southeast Missouri State (1988) and receivers coach at Pacific (1989) and Pittsburgh (1991).
Gruden won the lone Super Bowl title in Bucs history in the 2002 season, his first with the team. The Bucs are still paying Gruden the remainder of his contract, but presumably would be released from that obligation if he were hired for another coaching job. Gruden, who previously coached the Raiders, still had three years and about $15 million left on his Bucs contract when Tampa Bay fired him after the 2008 season.
Since then, his coaching has been limited to volunteering in high school at Carrollwood Day, where his son, Deuce, is a junior quarterback.
The Sun Sentinel reported that, if Miami does not hire Gruden, the school would likely turn to Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, a former assistant at Florida. Tuesday, Mullen told the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger that he has "not talked to anybody" about other jobs.
The Herald cited a trustee as saying that UM won't turn to head coaches with baggage — including Jim Leavitt, the coach fired by USF after last season. Leavitt, who coached Kansas State when Hocutt played there, could be in the mix for an assistant job. The no-baggage rule would seem to eliminate Mike Leach and former UM coach Butch Davis.