And NFL.com says he has sources telling him that Monday Night Football analyst and former Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden will be pegged as the University of Louisville’s No. 1 candidate should the decision be made to let head coach Steve Kragthorpe go.
UPDATE: Lombardi is identifying his sources as coming from inside the University of Louisville. Here’s the post at NationalFootballPost.com.
It’s a rumor that has been gaining strength for a couple of weeks, but Lombardi is the first media member to put his name behind it as having legs. (I can say that no source employed by U of L has confirmed this to me.)
I made the statement two Saturdays ago that Gruden will never be the coach at Louisville, breaking one of the first rules of journalism prognostication — never say never.
I still believe that. He has a good job now, has limited background in college coaching — compard with his NFL experience — and will have multiple chances to return to the NFL should he want to. Last weekend, rumors started circulating that U of L would offer him $3.6 million. If that’s true, it’s ludicrous. For a school whose football program has revenues in the ballpark of $20 million, to pay the head coach alone nearly 20 percent of that doesn’t make sense.
Still, if there’s an athletic director out there who could pull something like this off, it would be Tom Jurich.
And on the topic of where the money would come from, think about this: If the current (or next) coach doesn’t inspire suite or seat sales in the expanded stadium, U of L will be, in essence, out that money anyway in terms of lost revenue. Might as well turn that money loose by way in investment in a big-time coach as let it go in the form of empty seats.
Another revenue stream that people aren’t talking a lot about is the basketball arena which is taking shape downtown. Given the number of suites, and the deal U of L has worked out for occupancy, I believe U of L will soon be generating revenue unheard of for a college basketball program.
Still, U of L faces this problem — no matter how much it can pay, NFL teams can pay a lot more. And if a bidding war were to ensue, U of L would not be able to compete. If it wants to go after Gruden, a college program might be well-served to do it sooner rather than later.
All of this, of course, is far premature. But Michael Lombardi and NFL.com have officially put it out there, so there you go.
One thought on this story, if it becomes more of a story. Gruden works for ESPN. I’d say they should have the inside track on it, if anyone does.
Thanks to reader James High for passing this along, and for following NFL blogs with a good eye!