I always find the transition to broadcasting for ex-players and coaches to be a fascinating, yet usually a dreadful, endeavor. Most think they can step right in and contribute right away, but much like a rookie year in the league, they learn they are sadly mistaken. Those who can contribute right away, are the players that don’t hold out and get to camp as soon as possible (see: Sanchez, Mark).

This seems to be the case for Jon Gruden, who is not only getting to know his boothmates already, but even got a crash course in production at the NBA Finals of all places. Via the Orlando Sentinel….

“We wanted him to see the nerve center and get a really good idea of how a producer and director and crew really work,” ESPN Producer Jay Rothman said of Gruden, who will replace Tony Kornheiser in the MNF lineup. “Basketball, obviously, is a different animal because of the continuous action, but seeing the inner-workings of the production — with the communication back-and-forth between the truck — is part of the crash course we’re trying to give him heading to the fall.”

Tirico put it this way: “I can say, without equivocation, that Jon’s approach to learning how we do things is the most intense I’ve ever seen from a newbie in broadcasting.”

Rothman seconded that notion. In one of their initial meetings, Gruden pulled his producer aside.

“He told me, if he was going to do this, he wanted to be great and told me not to hesitate to hold back — ‘Rip me to shreds,’ he said — if I needed to,” Rothman recalled. “Who wouldn’t want to work with someone like that?”

Next week, “Jaws” will be in Tampa to hole up with Gruden at his St. Pete Times Forum office and watch tape — “Cut-Up Heaven” for both men, no doubt — in preparation for a series of mock broadcasts at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., in July.

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Everyone is fully aware of Gruden’s tendency to stay up all night as a Coach, and it’s refreshing to see him taking the same approach to broadcasting. Maybe the guy won’t just be hanging around for a year or two, after all.

Chucky training for new job (Orlando Sentinel)

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