(Chris Landry is a veteran NFL scout who has worked for the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. Previously, he ran the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and served as an assistant coach at LSU. Landry is a consultant for multiple NFL teams and major college programs.)
The college coaching “hot seat” season has arrived, and with that, Jon Gruden’s annual return to the conversation among fans – and media – who’ve grown tired of their current coach. Gruden’s name pops up like dandelions in the summer when it comes time to consider possible coaching replacements at the biggest programs in the nation, particularly Tennessee, where he has familial connections.
His wife went to school there and he was a graduate assistant coach for the Vols for one season in the mid-’80s.
Bear in mind, Gruden has expressed no interest in leaving his current job at ESPN for college football – or any coaching job – and that he’s been out of coaching of any kind for almost 10 years; his last college coaching position was at Pitt in 1991.
Oh, and he’s rebuffed Tennessee’s advances on three previous occasions.
Never mind all that. A certain segment of college football fans will always pine to have “Chucky” as their coach. Maybe they shouldn’t.
Chris Landry knows Jon Gruden. He knows the Gruden family. Landry has been around the pro and college game for decades, and has served as a consultant for colleges analyzing coaches and scouting them like he does players.
He does not think Gruden would be a successful college head coach.
“The problem that Jon had in the NFL was that he could not teach young players very well,” Landry says in his latest podcast. “Not great at teaching technique, even in quarterbacks. Not great at getting them to focus on the minutiae of the game.
“Jon was more big-picture, more scheme-oriented – was not a good fit for understanding how offenses and defenses work together, not very good at evaluating talent – at all – and, again, he was very impatient with young guys. Why? Because … he had a lot of concepts he wanted to throw out at you. Well, if you couldn’t do all of those things, then what do you do?
“Coaches have to be able to dial it down, become a little more simplistic, make it a little easier to understand and Jon struggled with that in the NFL. He couldn’t develop young quarterbacks or young teams because that’s not his strength. Well, folks, that’s all you coach in college.”
Landry has great respect for Gruden’s football mind. In the podcast, Landry explains what makes Gruden “brilliant,” what situation would be best for Gruden to return to coaching and what other critical attribute to being a great college coach Gruden lacks.
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