If Jon Gruden is going to be the next coach of the Oakland Raiders, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports, he’s going to fulfill his remaining Monday Night Football obligations before leaving the broadcast booth.
In announcing the network’s broadcast crew for Saturday’s AFC wild card game telecast, ESPN’s Bill Hofheimer revealed that Gruden would be part of the regular MNF announcing team with play-by-play man Sean McDonough. Regular reporter Lisa Salters will cover the Kansas City Chiefs, while Schefter will join the team to cover the Tennessee Titans.
ESPN's Wild Card crew for Saturday's #TENvsKC game … #MNF's McDonough & Gruden in the booth w/ reporters Salters (covering @Chiefs) and @AdamSchefter (covering @Titans). #NFLPlayoffs
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) January 1, 2018
With the Raiders firing Jack Del Rio on Sunday, there may have been some expectation that Gruden would bolt ESPN and get to work right away as Oakland’s new coach. In addition to Gruden fulfilling his obligations with ESPN, however, there are some hoops that the Raiders need to jump through before making a hire — namely the NFL’s Rooney Rule that mandates minority candidates be interviewed for a head coach opening.
The #Raiders are confident Jon Gruden will say yes eventually, though he is being careful about doing so before they comply with the Rooney Rule and he is still on the books to broadcast a game Saturday for ESPN. Gruden is already planning to call plays, hire DC Paul Guenther.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 1, 2018
Going through the charade of interviewing minority candidates when the Raiders have reportedly already decided that Gruden will be their next coach is fodder for another post entirely.But it’s also understandable if Gruden feels some loyalty to ESPN and his MNF mates after nine years in a very lucrative position that’s made a return to NFL coaching less desirable than it may have been otherwise.
Based on reports by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and the New York Daily News‘ Manish Mehta, Gruden already has eyes on his offensive and defensive coordinators. Combined with Schefter’s emphatic report, that seems to imply the Gruden truck is ready to roll toward Oakland. It will just have to warm up a bit before going into gear.