Jon Gruden secretly a Michigan man?

With Michigan’s 2-4 start, speculation has swirled about the Wolverines soon being in the market for a new head coach.

Surely you’ve heard the speculation about Jim Harbaugh (or perhaps his brother John) being high on the list of potential candidates to replace Brady Hoke if Hoke is fired, but what if neither of those options pan out?

They might want to give another Ohio-born coach with a Super Bowl on his resumé a call: Jon Gruden.

Of course Gruden’s name comes up annually for jobs, but he seems to be well ensconced in the analyst’s chair on ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast. And yet … what if he has a sense of unfinished business? 

Thanks to the work of a Univeristy of Dayton athletics communications intern, we now know the former Flyers quarterback has seen himself occupying the big chair in Ann Arbor at some point in his life. 

Gruden has never been a college head coach, but he did some time as an assistant at Tennessee, Southeast Missouri State, Pacific and Pitt on his way to being an assistant for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. He was head coach of the Oakland Raiders for four seasons then went to Tampa Bay, where he led the Buccaneers to a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Who knows if Gruden is willing to get back into the coaching profession — particularly college, where the whims of teenagers and 20-year-olds are an overriding factor in determining success — but he does check off some of the boxes Michigan tends to look for in a coach.

No. 1, he was born in Ohio — just like Hoke, both Harbaughs and their mentor, Bo Schembechler. The Sandusky native also played college football in the Buckeye State, as did Schembechler and John Harbaugh (both of whom attended Miami University).

And then of course there is the requisite respect for Woody Hayes, who was Schembechler’s college coach before hiring him as an assistant at Ohio State. 

"Woody Hayes is a big reason I got into coaching," Gruden told a group of reporters while visiting Ohio State for the annual high school coaches clinic in 2011. "He was my idol as a kid. We used to get our heads stomped on by Woody Hayes (when Gruden’s father, Jim, was an assistant at Indiana), but I love the fight song and I’m proud to be a Buckeye."

Yep, this guy sounds like a perfect candidate to lead Michigan.

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