The NFL got John Gruden and might not need Nick Saban.
The coaching carousel is always interesting in big-time sports, especially football and basketball. Will Nick Saban try another shot at the NFL after winning five national titles at Alabama? At 66, why would he? Did you see how many true freshmen played in the championship game? He could win two or three more before he turns 70!
The NFL does need help, though, if you judge it by all the coaching changes since the regular season ended. Where is there stability besides New England, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, New Orleans and the Carolina Panthers, where Riverboat Ron Rivera keeps escaping the hot seat to get a contract extension?
While young NFL coaches like the two Seans, McVay and McDermott, look like good hires, only time will tell. By far, the most captivating move was Oakland luring John Gruden away from broadcasting after nine years to return to his first love, the Raiders, who traded him to Tampa Bay for first round draft picks in 2001 and he promptly beat his old team in the Super Bowl.
Gruden is terrific on TV, whether calling color or hosting his quarterback camp and was likely one of the highest paid ESPN analysts. But all coaches have it in their blood, and the lucky ones get a second chance. Gruden’s comes in the form of a 10-year contract worth $100 million. He’s only 54 and still has the goods. The Raiders have playoff talent and will move to Las Vegas in two years. Who wouldn’t want to be in on that?
You knew something was up as Jack Del Rio got fired when the Raiders missed the playoffs after he built a contending team. Right away, rumors began about Gruden and would not die; that’s when you knew they were for real. With all the attention coaches in trouble get, the spotlight will be on Gruden to take the Raiders back to the Super Bowl first the first time in 15 years. He has developed a loyal following on TV and those viewers may also become devotees of his new team.
Mostly, Gruden is the right, well-needed image for a franchise more associated with motorcycle gangs than clean-cut fans. He is charismatic and candid and an offensive guru. He will really ramp up interest in Oakland and Vegas. Heck, even I might dump the Patriots when Brady retires and go with the silver and black.