Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-US PRESSWIRE

Rumor: Jon Gruden to Meet with Tennessee AD Despite Denials; Could Choose NFL Job Instead

Jon Gruden has hit the stratosphere when it comes to who everyone’s talking about at the moment, and just because he’s trying to down play everything doesn’t mean that anything is a done deal. Despite denying that he’s interested in or about to accept a head coaching gig at Tennessee, Jon Gruden is expected to meet with Vols athletic director sometime this week according to Mike Freeman from CBS Sports.

That seems to be the main kink in a plan that has a lot of them. Earlier last night it was reported that Jimmy Haslam, the new owner of the Cleveland Browns, was offering to give Gruden a stake in Browns ownership should he accept the job at Tennessee. This report turned out to maybe be not so true, but it didn’t help extinguish the fire that has been raging recently about Gruden taking over the program at Tennessee.

NCAA rules state that a booster cannot give a potential head coach part of their business to lure them into a job, even if their business is a so-so on the rise NFL franchise.

The more likely outcome is that Gruden accepts a job with the Cleveland Browns, who will likely fire Pat Shumur after the season to start over with new ownership. If the report of Gruden getting ownership in the Browns proved anything, it’s that Haslam and Chucky may be getting cozy together, thus putting the writing on the wall that Gruden could head to Cleveland.

It’s no secret that Gruden wants to return to the sideline, but he wants to return to an NFL sideline, not a college one. That doesn’t totally rule him out as a candidate at Tennessee, but with a slew of head coaching jobs available this offseason, including likely options being Philadelphia, Cleveland, San Diego and his old stomping grounds of Oakland.

The race to get Gruden isn’t a one horse race in the Vols, and the SEC might find out it’s not as lucrative a place for all coaches as they think it is.

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Tags: Cleveland Browns NFL Sec Tennessee Volunteers