Rumor Mill: Tennessee and Arkansas both “want” Jon Gruden, ready to unload the bank

Well, we knew it was only a matter of time until this headline surfaced, but what does it all mean? Does either program have a shot at reeling in the big fish that is Jon Gruden?

According to CBS Sports, both schools are ready to open up the bank accounts in order to lure the Super Bowl-winning coach to their respective university:

Both universities want Gruden, sources said, as they try to get back to being powers in the challenging SEC. The Razorbacks are prepared to make their next coach the highest-paid in the SEC, according to sources close to the program, and budget will not be an issue. The program, which has plummeted in the wake of the Bobby Petrino scandal (the Razorbacks dropped to 4-7 and out of the bowl picture on Saturday), is prepared to be part of a bidding war for Gruden, 49, sources said.

Tennessee’s program has also fallen, with the now Derek Dooley-less team needing a win against Kentucky next week to avoid an 0-8 finish in the SEC, and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam — a billionaire booster for the Volunteers, whose brother, Bill, just happens to be the governor of Tennessee — has told several people that he loves Gruden and believes he would be a great fit at the school.

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.

If Gruden is in fact interested in making a run in the college ranks, it will be interesting to see which SEC school he chooses.

Gruden, along with his Super Bowl championship ring, would undoubtedly make an immediate impact on the recruiting trail, while the SEC as an entire conference would likely only get stronger; just in time for the playoff system to settle in.

We will keep you updated here with any news that does surface.

Do you think Gruden will be a college coach this time next year? Let us know in the comments below!