With the first of what surely will be many firings on the college football landscape, brings the now annual speculation that Jon Gruden will take a college head coaching job. There will be many high profile openings available and he is already getting calls to ascertain interest. College presidents beware! Hiring Jon Gruden will be a program crippling mistake.
One the most important aspects of coaching college football, is the ability to teach. Gruden has proven that he either did not possess the ability to teach or did not have the stomach for it as he always preferred veteran quarterbacks and never developed a single QB on the pro level. This inability to develop or want to develop a pro quarterback directly led to his firing in
. College Football is all about teaching players. Tampa Bay
Practice & Player Contact Limits
The NCAA has strict guidelines about how long players can practice and workout. Gruden is a notorious early riser who wakes up daily at 3:17. He works non-stop. How easy do you think it will be to adjust his practice schedules, meeting schedules and training schedules down to fit the college model? It will drive him nuts that he can’t be on the field or even in the stands for off-season work-outs. He would be an NCAA infraction waiting to happen.
West Coast Offense
The West Coast Offense is a timing based system that requires immense practice time to perfect. Time college coaches don’t have because of practice limits. Look at the last several West Coast pro coaches who dropped down to the college level - Mike Sherman at Texas A & M, Bill Callahan at
Nebraska, Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State, Al Groh at . They all bombed offensively. Coaches don’t change their preferred schemes. They are always inclined to go with the schemes they feel most comfortable with. However, the West Coast offense does not work in college Virginia
Alumni & the Rubber Chicken Circuit
College coaches have to kiss the ring. They have to bow down to influential alumni. The landscape is littered with successful coaches who could not get along with influential boosters and got fired because of it. This is what happened to Tommy Bowden at Auburn and David Cutcliff at Ole Miss. Every program has these guys who have made their money and now the “program” is their pet project. These are also the guys who fund the private organizations that pay the majority of the coaches’ salary. Another aspect of coaching college is the “rubber chicken circuit.” That’s the name coaches give to the off season dinner circuit that they have to go and give speeches and eat those meat, starch and vegetable banquet dinners we all love so much. I don’t know how good Gruden would be doing these things, but I do know that I’d rather hire a coach that is already familiar with these types of activities. Pro coaches who drop down to college find that they do not have the stomach for this stuff. Its part of the job so wouldn’t you want coaches who are already familiar with these tasks?
For these reasons, I think Jon Gruden would be a horrible choice for a college head coaching job. As for the pro ranks, seems like he’d fit perfectly in Dallas but that’s a column for another day.