MIAMI — It appears Jon Gruden isn't as interested in the Hurricanes as the school's fans and boosters are in him.
Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt met with the former Bucs coach and current NFL television analyst in Tampa early Wednesday, but a job offer was not made. It was purely an exploratory conversation.
Gruden reportedly listened and said that he would not being going further at this time because he is keeping his options open, including the NFL, the Miami Herald reported. It is unlikely Miami, which needs to move quickly because of recruiting, will wait, the newspaper reported.
Internet reports of a news conference scheduled for Wednesday were erroneous, the school said in an e-mail. "As we said at the beginning of the process, Kirby Hocutt will not comment on the search for a new head football coach until the process is completed," the statement said.
ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson believes Gruden will remain in broadcasting. "We expect Jon to be on Monday Night Football doing what he's been doing for a long time to come," Williamson said.
So the search to replace Randy Shannon continues.
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump sent a note to school president Donna Shalala this week, suggesting the Hurricanes hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. Leach, who now lives in Key West, said he has not been contacted by any schools with openings, but told the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram he is interested in the Miami job.
Part of Trump's message: "You can now get him for the right price."
Miami has said it will not hire a coach with baggage, which would seem to rule out Leach and former USF coach Jim Leavitt. Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, a former Florida assistant, might be a target.
USF: Tough corner
TAMPA — USF defensive backs coach Rick Smith saw a toughness in CB Quenton Washington in Saturday's 23-20 overtime win at Miami that fit right in with the junior's best game of the season.
A collision left Washington with three of his lower front teeth bent backward, but he got outfitted with a mouthpiece to keep the teeth in place, and his deflection of a pass to WR Leonard Hankerson in the end zone forced a Miami field goal, keeping the Bulls within a touchdown late in the game.
"He's really showed some toughness, which is something he and I went 'round and 'round about in the spring," Smith said. "Some days, he didn't feel like it. I'm shocked the way he's come around."
INJURIES: QB B.J. Daniels, whose status for Saturday against UConn remains uncertain, took "a lot of mental reps" according to coach Skip Holtz. But Daniels was unable to test his injured leg in drills, making it more likely true freshman Bobby Eveld, who played at Jesuit High, will make his first start.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
FSU: Ready for more
TALLAHASSEE — RB Jermaine Thomas is out of Saturday's ACC Championship Game against Virginia Tech with a knee injury, and RB Ty Jones' status is uncertain due to an ankle injury. The quickest of the FSU running back trio, Chris Thompson, feels fine.
The three have mostly split carries this season, with each having more than 480 yards. But in recent weeks, Thompson has been the primary back. He had a career-high 17 carries in the 31-7 victory over Florida, and is averaging 6.9 yards a carry this year.
Thompson, who leads FSU with 687 rushing yards, said he expects to be featured heavily — 20 to 25 touches — this week, though coach Jimbo Fisher believes Jones will be available.
UCF: Nod for Knights
ORLANDO — Tulane coach Bob Toledo said all year he thought UCF had the best team in Conference USA. Nothing has changed his mind heading into Saturday's conference title game between the host Knights and Southern Methodist.
"I do think UCF will win," said Toledo, whose team lost to UCF and SMU. "I don't think they beat themselves. They don't turn the ball over, they don't get a lot of stupid penalties and they don't make big mistakes."
If UCF wins Saturday (fewer than 10,000 tickets remain), the Knights will be invited to the Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl in Memphis to face Tennessee or Georgia. Lose, and UCF will be headed to the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl to face the Warriors.