Coaching Buzz: Gruden Rumors; O’Brien’s Intentions

The Jon Gruden rumors continue to swirl in several different directions.

The latest report out of WREG-TV in Memphis has the University of Tennessee willing to offer Gruden an ownership stake in the Cleveland Browns.

How exactly would that work?

The story goes that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III, a Tennessee booster, would help lure Gruden to Knoxville. However, the Browns have flat-out denied the report. Via NFL.com:

“Jimmy Haslam has no involvement in the University of Tennessee head coaching search, and the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous,” Browns Vice President of Media Relations Neil Gulkis said in an official statement.

Gruden also said during a radio interview that there’s no truth to the report.

There have been all kinds of rumors involving Gruden, and we still have five weeks left in the regular season. With there likely to be so many opportunities both at the pro and college levels available, if Gruden wants to go back to the sidelines, this would seem like a pretty good time to make the move.

Meanwhile, Bill O’Brien was asked during a radio interview with 790 AM The Zone in Atlanta whether he’ll be back with Penn State next season.

“I plan on being the head football coach at Penn State (in 2013),” he said. “That’s my plan and that’s what I intend to do.”

Of course, most will notice O’Brien carefully using words like “plan” and “intend.” As others have pointed out, even if O’Brien is 100 percent committed to staying, perhaps it’s not the worst thing in the world (when it comes to recruiting and rebuilding Penn State’s program) to have his name mentioned in NFL circles. Then again, maybe he’s going to at least weigh his options if/when teams call.

O’Brien’s agent, Joe Linta, provided a more firm answer to ESPN.com.

“(O’Brien) is staying, and we’ve had no conversations with anyone else,” Linta said. “In fact, he’s leaving at 6 in the morning tomorrow to go out on the recruiting trail.”

If he bolts, O’Brien would owe Penn State $9.2M over four years, Linta confirmed.

As always, you can find all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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