Randy Smith: No More Jon Gruden Please

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
I am getting so tired of hearing ESPN analyst Jon Gruden's name being mentioned every time Tennessee football fans want to fire their coach and hire a new one. It started almost 10 years ago when the Vols' disgruntled fan base became disenchanted with Phillip Fulmer and has continued with every coach since then; through Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and now Butch Jones. This commentary is not about defending Butch Jones. I stated two days ago that I was finished doing that. No, this commentary deals with the fact that Tennessee's fan base should forget about Jon Gruden being the Vols' next coach.

I have no problem with Jon Gruden. He's a very knowledgeable football coach and had great success in the NFL.
But he has no track record as a successful college football coach. He spent a small amount of time as an assistant coach at Tennessee and owns a home near Knoxville. He has stated publicly that the Tennessee job is his "dream" job. But he said that with his tongue resting firmly in his cheek. In other words, he's messing with you Vols' fans. I could be wrong but I still feel as I've thought all along that Gruden is not a viable candidate for the job.    

Why have Tennessee fans become so enamored with Jon Gruden? It could be his no nonsense approach to the game of football, much like the approach of Alabama's Nick Saban. But Saban's approach is so much more and it's resulted in five NCAA Championships. Gruden has just one Super Bowl crown to his credit. Very few coaches have had equal success in both the professional and college ranks. Saban didn't and neither did Steve Spurrier. I've seen nothing that indicates Jon Gruden will have great success as a college coach. 

I'm reminded that before Phillip Fulmer was given the boot back in 2008, fans were eagerly requesting the Vols find a "good looking" coach to guide the program. At that time I thought that was the most ridiculous statement I ever heard and I still do. Since Jon Gruden is a fairly good looking guy, that could the reason that some of the Big Orange faithful have such a man-crush on him. 

Butch Jones may get things turned around and right the Vols' ship. They will be 3-1 when they host Georgia in a couple of weeks and a win there will put them right back in the SEC East race. That's being optimistic but it's also very possible.  But if Butch can't turn it around and can't get it done, I'm sure Gruden's name will continue to crop up, along with Chip Kelly, whose looks are really quite mediocre. Maybe Mathew McConaughey could be considered. He's a very handsome man, and even played a college football coach in the movie, "We Are Marshall." That makes as much sense as Jon Gruden. 


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Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.

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