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

“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

“(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.

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King Believes Kelly Will Be Candidate To Replace Reid

Here’s the latest coaching buzz around the NFL. And remember, you can find all these links, notes and rumors in our special section.’s Peter King chimes in on who he thinks could be in the mix to replace Andy Reid:

Close to the end, barring a miracle stay by Jeffrey Lurie. Could Oregon coach Chip Kelly, his national title hopes dashed, be waiting in the wings? I believe he’ll be a candidate to take the Eagles job after leaving the Bucs at the altar last year.

We’ve written about Kelly quite a bit in this space. His Oregon squad lost in overtime to Stanford Saturday night. Jason La Canfora of reports that potential NCAA sanctions could push Kelly to the NFL after this season:

The NCAA has been conducting a lengthy investigation into possible payments to intermediaries with ties to recruits. And while the governing body has announced no timetable for any decisions, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, the sanctions could be severe and a decision could be coming after the season. In recent months, the NCAA has conducted interviews lasting six hours or more with “recruiting services” personnel connected to the program, and NFL executives see the situation as being similar to when Pete Carroll left USC to head to the Seahawks in 2010. Carroll bolted to Seattle with sanctions looming, and months later USC was hit with a two-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions that have plagued the program throughout Lane Kiffin’s tenure.

Meanwhile, there continues to be a growing sentiment that Jon Gruden plans on returning to the sidelines after this season. But according to La Canfora, Gruden is being targeted by college programs like Arkansas and Tennessee:

League sources said Gruden has made calls identifying possible staff members with his focus seeming more on the college game, asking questions of those potential staffers about recruiting and issues that do not relate to pro football. Numerous sources who have talked to him in recent weeks came away with the impression that Gruden was more serious about return to coaching now than at any time since he was fired by the Bucs after the 2008 season, although it still would have to be a perfect situation to lure him from his current job at ESPN, where he is well compensated and gets to have a fairly normal family life.

Gruden and the Monday Night Football crew must be thrilled that they’ll get to call the Eagles-Panthers game next week. The two teams are a combined 5-15 and have been outscored by a total of 149 points.

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Twitter Mailbag: Can Foles Attract A Big-Name Coach?

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @riggitty: Will Nick Foles intrigue any head coaching prospects if he performs well in a few starts this season?

Very good question. As Eagles fans get their head coaching wish lists ready, complete with the Bill Cowhers and Jon Grudens of the world, few pause to think if the interest would be mutual. Nothing is more important than having a quality quarterback in this league (something Sheil lays out well here). If the Eagles don’t have an attractive option at QB, why would a coach-in-demand choose the Eagles?

For that reason, I think it is critically important that Foles acquits himself well if the Eagles are going for the big name. The less desirable the quarterback situation looks, the better chance the Eagles will have to mine for a diamond assistant in the rough. But to be honest, I think that’s the direction they go in regardless.

From @JCentifonti: Could Roseman be bumped to President & they go after a new GM?

No, they promoted Don Smolenski to President back in June, around the same time Howie Roseman reportedly received his contract extension.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the Lurie-Smolenski-Roseman triumvirate will be in place to oversee the transition from the Reid Era to the new era. Lurie will need men that he trusts to guide the franchise where he wants it to go.

I am fascinated with how the Michael Vick situation will be handled. If Vick is still on the roster three days after the Super Bowl, $3 million of his salary becomes guaranteed. Chances are, the Eagles won’t have a head coach in place by then. Would Roseman and Lurie make the call to release Vick without first consulting with their head coach to be?

The answer will tell us a lot.

From @BrandonSlagle27: I was looking at the nyg and dal sched. Do you think it’s possible to win the NFC east with a 9-7 record or even possibly 8-8?

Here’s what each NFC East team is facing the rest of the way:

Giants (6-4): Packers, @Redskins, Saints, @Falcons, @Ravens, Eagles
Cowboys (4-5): Browns, Redskins, Eagles, @Bengals, Steelers, Saints, @Redskins
Eagles (3-6): @Redskins, Panthers, @Cowboys, @Bucs, Bengals, Redskins, @Giants
Redskins (3-6):  Eagles, @Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, @Browns, @Eagles, Cowboys

A couple things that stand out: The Giants face a pretty tough slate starting next week against Green Bay. The Cowboys have maybe the easiest schedule, especially considering that they have just two road games the rest of the way. The Eagles have just two games remaining against teams with winning records (Giants, Bucs).

The second half of the season is backloaded with division games. Yeah, I can see 9-7 winning the NFC East. Definitely possible.

From @phillytokorea: who is the Eagle player that has the most upside? A potential Pro Bowler?

I think Fletcher Cox is your guy. The eye is not naturally drawn to the middle of the line so Cox does not get a ton of recognition, but he has shown some real nice flashes in the first half of his rookie season. It took no time at all before Cox was Jim Washburn‘s most-used defensive tackle.

He is a bright spot in a down season, and one reason to be optimistic if you’re an Eagles fan.

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Coaching Buzz: Gruden, Kelly And Arians

A lot of talk among Eagles fans right now is focused not on the team’s Week 10 game against the Cowboys, but rather on who the next head coach could potentially be.

While we need to acknowledge that there are still eight games remaining, and that Andy Reid is under contract through 2013, it’d be foolish to ignore the buzz about head-coaching candidates that is already building.

Birds 24/7 is, after all, a blog for the people.

So from time to time, we’ll round up links and information about names you should know.

Without further ado…

Tim wrote about Jon Gruden and his praise for Nick Foles yesterday. But there are a couple other links to pass along. The first is from Paul Domowitch of the Daily News. Domo caught up with Ron Jaworski to get his take on Gruden possibly returning. One of the most noteworthy parts of the column focused on how much control Gruden might want from a personnel standpoint:

Talent evaluation isn’t Gruden’s strong suit. Coaching and motivating players is. If you’re an owner, you wouldn’t want to bring him in and make him king. And Jaworski said Gruden wouldn’t necessarily want to be king. All he would want is a general manager who’s on the same page as he is.

“He’s going to want to have someone he can trust and communicate with,” Jaws said. “No question of that. And it’s not just Jon. Any head coach that comes in is going to want to have that good relationship [with a GM].

“Look what happened in Carolina. You could see there was a disconnect there between Ron [Rivera] and [recently fired GM] Marty Hurney. They signed [running backs] DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, and then they don’t run the ball. That’s the kind of disconnect you can’t have.

“For Jon, it’s not about power. It’s about working in harmony.”

That’s an important nugget, considering the Eagles extended Howie Roseman’s contract back in June. Of course, as others have pointed out, there’s no guarantee that Roseman will return, but it seems more likely than not at this point.

One more note on Gruden: Sources tell Mike Freeman of that he’s already putting together a skeleton staff of assistants, should the right opportunity present itself.

Another name you’re going to hear a lot about is Oregon’s Chip Kelly. Sources tell Dennis Dodd of that Kelly is likely to make the leap to the NFL this offseason. Last year, he had the chance to take over the Tampa Bay Bucs, but turned it down. He’ll likely have multiple suitors this time around.

“It’s just inevitable that he will eventually be in the NFL,” [Former Oregon coach Mike] Bellotti said. “Chip is one of the ultimate competitors and he sees that. It actually surprised me he changed his mind [with the Bucs] last year.

“Whether they get to the national championship and whether they win the national championship, I don’t know. To think he’ll stay there when ultimately his idea of top jobs is to get to the Super Bowl, it won’t happen, unfortunately, at the college level.”

And finally, some of you have asked about Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who currently has assumed head-coaching duties from Chuck Pagano. Daniel Jeremiah of said he’s heard Arians’ name mentioned for possible head-coaching opportunities around the league. Arians, who is 60-years-old, previously was the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he was the head coach of Temple from 1983 to 1988.

Jeremiah also recently put together a list of head-coaching candidates, including Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien (although he concedes it’s highly unlikely that O’Brien leaves Happy Valley).

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Jon Gruden Talks Nick Foles

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times caught up with Jon Gruden recently to talk about the performance of the rookie quarterbacks at the midway point of the season. Thanks to ESPN’s “Gruden QB Camp” the former head coach has spent quality time with a bunch of the young signal-callers.

After analyzing the likes of Andrew Luck, RGIII and Russell Wilson, Gruden was asked who the next rookie quarterback to emerge will be.  He pointed to none other than Nick Foles.

I had  Nick Foles in the preseason against New England. Michael Vick got hurt on the fifth or sixth play, and Foles went the distance, on the road in Foxborough. If you like prototype pocket passers with some functional mobility and a tremendous amount of toughness, Foles is interesting.

What really impressed me in the preseason was they weren’t running generic formations. They ran about 30 different formations out of about eight different personnel groupings in successive plays. So I see him recognizing coverages. I see him getting to second and third receivers, just like you’d want a quarterback to do in that system, and I love his NFL size. He reminds me a lot of Brad Johnson, from his football character to his ability to decipher a lot quickly, and we won a championship with Brad.

Reports have surfaced that Gruden is interested in returning to the sidelines next season. If there is in fact a vacancy in Philadelphia, he would likely win the popular vote among the fan base as the desired replacement for Andy Reid. Whether that is realistic depends on a variety of factors, not the least of which is whether Gruden believes there is a winning quarterback in place. These quotes suggest he is high on Foles, though as anyone who has listened to his Monday Night Football braodcasts can attest, he sounds high on everyone at one point or another.

Here is a clip of Gruden and Foles together for the ESPN special.



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