What would you do?
If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?
Well, you could go to Hooterís and order a pitcher of beer and dozen wings. Then, Monday, you could go be inducted into the Bucsí Ring of Honor.
Iím talking about after that.
Would you stay in the broadcast booth as the wildly popular analyst for Monday Night Football?
You could continue making $6.5 million a year. You can keep selling wings and cars and whatever else to put more money in your wallet. You can continue to be heavily involved in the game you love without any of the pressure of winning or losing. You travel a little. You break down a little film. But you donít have to work 18-hour days and sleep on a lumpy couch in your office, trying to figure out how to pick up a third and 4. Itís a pretty good life.
Or, you can get back into the game as a coach. You can grab a headset and play sheet and talk some NFL team into hiring you for $6 million a year.
Maybe even the team down the street, the same team that you led to its only Super Bowl.
This is not exactly a choice between fire and the frying pan.
Itís more like either winning the lottery or ... well, winning another lottery. Both sound pretty good.
And, honestly, Gruden could go either way even though his interest in coaching isnít really known, maybe not even by him at this time.
He was asked last week about coaching rumors.
"Iíve got a job Iím trying to hang onto," Gruden. "I love football, I love what Iím doing and I canít control all the reports."
Thatís a typical Gruden quote about coaching. He says a bunch of stuff without really saying anything.
Hereís my hunch: Gruden likes to be asked to coach more than he actually wants to coach.
His name comes up in coaching rumors. He never does much to shut those rumors down and yet he never takes a job. He has been out of coaching for nine years now. Along the way, he even leads some fans to think he might be interested in coaching there. Right, University of Tennessee?
So what will he do?
I bring this up now for two reasons. One, heís the man of the hour this week with his induction into the Ring of Honor. And, two, his name will be the first to come up if the Bucs fire Dirk Koetter. Rumors about that have already started.
Sorry, Bucs fans. My hunch ó and this is nothing more than a hunch ó is that Gruden will not return to coaching next season. Not with the Bucs. Not with anyone.
Right now, he simply has it too good.
He has one of the best and most coveted announcing gigs in the business. Heís paid a ton of money to call a game that has no other competition at that time. Not only is Gruden a broadcasting star, heís a prime-time television star just like Jim Parsons or Gwen Stefani.
Leave that job and you likely will never get it back. Gruden could return to broadcasting, no problem. But thereís a big difference between calling the second-best game on Sunday afternoon for CBS and having the whole nation watch you on Monday Night Football.
But, come on, Jon, donít you want to get back on the field again?
Donít you want to do some real coaching instead of that Quarterback Camp thing you do for ESPN? Because Iíve got news for you: thatís fake coaching. Thatís TV coaching. Itís no more real that playing Madden.
Itís true that Gruden doesnít lose any games working in a television booth. And thatís great. Makes for lots of good night sleeps.
But he hasnít won any games either. And thatís got to be unfulfilling for a guy with the competitive juices of Gruden.
Gruden is a pretty good spot. Heís not desperate to coach, which means if he wants to coach again someday, he can wait for the perfect opening.
He can make sure he works in a liveable city with a great owner and, most of all, a really good quarterback.
Is that Tampa Bay?
Well, we know he likes living here because he does.
Ownership? They do spend money, but this also is the same ownership that once fired Gruden after a 9-7 season.
And the quarterback? Geez, who knows at this point with Jameis Winston?
If Gruden wants to get back into coaching, all he has to do is say the word and teams will blow up his phone.
It would be a blast if that happened in Tampa Bay. I just wouldnít count on it.
Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones.