College Football: Would Jon Gruden Be the Next ‘Nick Saban’?


Jon Gruden is rumored to be in consideration for a college coaching gig in 2013. Photo: Steven Senne/AP

It’s surprising to me, albeit only mildly, that no one has re-hashed the whole Shaun King-John Gruden debacle, what-with all the chatter about Gruden possibly landing a job in the college football ranks come 2013. I mean, it wasn’t all that long ago that King was pointing a not-so-nice finger at Mr. Gruden—essentially calling him a liar—and saying he wasn’t a coach that any professional player should feel comfortable playing for or trusting.

That said, King was more than willing to say that Gruden would make a perfect college coach because what doesn’t work in the NFL could certainly mean success at the college football level. King even went so far as to compare Gruden to Nick Saban—the current coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Below, in brief, is what King had to say about Gruden in regards to his ability to coach at the college level:

…the thing in the National Football League that’s impossible is to be ‘Nick Saban’. I mean the only guy whose even come remotely close to being ‘Nick Saban’ is Belichik, and that revolves around one thing, and that’s because they win at the highest level. And the difference is everybody that plays for the Patriots loves Belichik…that’s why a guy like ‘Nick Saban’ will never succeed in the National Football League, because he has a style of coaching kind of like a dictatorship—you do what I say or else. The NFL is not built like that.  That’s why I’ve always said Jon Gruden would be an excellent college football coach. But, in the National Football League, when you’re dealing with other men—some of them may be older you, all of them generally have families, a lot of them make more than you do—it’s a different environment. 

Of course, Shaun King was never more than a career back-up with a penchant for believing he was NFL starting material, where Jon Gruden has a Super Bowl ring to show for his “dicatorship”, but do not allow that to diminish King’s point in the least.

Saban has long been known for his business-like approach to coaching. He doesn’t play favorites, he runs the Crimson Tide much like a CEO would a Fortune 500 Company. His approach has been successful at every stop and his style continues to keep the Tide in the thick of the BCS Championship race each year—dictatorial or not, it’s worked for Saban at the college level.

That said, if Gruden were to accept a college gig, would he be as successful as Saban has been? Could he be the guy who turns a Tennessee or an Arkansas around (the two programs his name has surfaced around the most over the last few weeks) and return them to national glory?

The answer to those questions is anyone’s guess, but given the excitement Gruden’s name elicits when spoken at the moment, you’d have to think that there are more than a few programs out there willing to take that gamble.

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I am not a 'journalist' by trade, nor do I present myself as such. I am a wife, mother, and passionate Georgia Bulldog fan. That's it. I write. You read.