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Is Jon Gruden Being Offered Ownership Stake in Browns to Coach Tennessee?

Tennessee kicked Derek Dooley to the curb a week ago after his team got absolutely humiliated by Vanderbilt. That loss, to a program that the Vols traditionally dominated in years past, made the coaching change mandatory. Dooley hadn’t recorded a single SEC win all year. He squandered what a lot of people -- at the beginning of the season -- felt was a decent amount of talent. His firing was inevitable.

All that said, Dooley’s inability to turn Tennessee around doesn’t change the fact that his hiring made sense. It’s easy to play Monday Morning quarterback now and suggest that it was a bad decision to bring him on board, but Dooley was worth the shot he was given. Should the leash have been a little shorter than it ultimately proved to be? Probably. But again, at the time, the hiring made sense.

Along the same lines, Jon Gruden to Tennessee makes sense. He is a respected football mind. He is constantly (reportedly) in the mix for NFL coaching opportunities. And he would fit with the general vibe at Tennessee, or at least what it once was. Unfortunately, while the Vols being interested in Gruden makes all the sense in the world, him being interesting in them is a little farfetched. There would need to be some serious incentives there for him to ditch his cushy ESPN gig for a bottom-tier program in the toughest college football conference around.

Could ones of those incentives come in the form of a stake in the Cleveland Browns? That’s what WREG-TV is suggesting. Per their report:

News Channel 3 has learned former NFL coach Jon Gruden has a contract offer in hand from the University of Tennessee and a decision could be made as early as Wednesday.

Part of the offer is Gruden getting a piece of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who were recently bought by Jimmy Haslam III, one of UT’s biggest boosters.

The same piece also featured this note:

The following statement was sent to us by Neal Gulkis, Vice President of Media Relations for the Cleveland Browns:

“Jimmy Haslam has no involvement in the University of Tennessee head coaching search, and the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous.”

What’s the bottom line here? Well, the bottom line here is this: the NCAA does not permit coaches to accept third party compensation for their services. That means the nobody besides Tennessee can hand Gruden a stake in the Browns.

And seeing as NFL ownership is about the only thing that would lure Gruden to Tennessee given all of the pro opportunities that will be available this year, it’s probably a safe to file this one away under “never going to happen.”

(WREG-TV,Larry Brown Sports)

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