Let me start by saying I’m just not convinced Jon Gruden will take the University of Miami coaching job. He probably can have any vacant NFL job he wants and the thought of him hitting the recruiting trail and begging some 18-year-old kid to come to his school just doesn’t register.
But you know what? Every ACC school should help pay Gruden’s salary to get him to Coral Gables.
John Swofford, the conference commissioner, should throw in a log cabin.
Butch Davis should loan him his personal tutor.
The SEC championship is this week. Everybody cares. The ACC championship is this week. Nobody cares.
Do you know why? Coaches.
Yes, the SEC is the annual college football behemoth and the conference title game has been the gateway for the BCS champion in the last four years (Auburn could make it five). But one of the major reasons the conference garners so much attention during the season — and commands astronomical television dollars — are the coaches.
What other conference can throw out Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Bobby Petrino, Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier? Whether you like these guys or not, they are names everybody knows. They are personalities. They are storylines.
Look at even the second tier of “names”: Gene Chizik (who is 12-0), Derek Dooley (likable son of legendary Vince Dooley), Dan Mullen (suddenly one of the hottest coaches on the market), Houston Nutt (sure he orchestrated the spectacular disaster of signing Jeremiah Masoli, but we talk about him).
Quick. Name three ACC coaches other than Paul Johnson. I’ll wait.
Let’s look at the ACC title matchup: Frank Beamer, a legend, vs. Jimbo Fisher, who replaced a legend (Bobby Bowden). Does either have the personality of Spurrier — or, for that matter, Chizik, who’s been entertaining to watch and listen to during the Cam Newton saga?
Here are your other ACC coaches: Ralph Friedgen, Jim Grobe, Tom O’Brien, Frank Spaziani, David Cutcliffe, Butch Davis, Dabo Swinney and Mike London.
Don’t worry. They wear name tags at the convention every year.
There’s a saying: a rising tide lifts all boats. Look at Miami as the tide. It’s one of the ACC’s centerpiece programs for football. If Miami is good, it draws attention and forces every other team to get better. If Miami hires Gruden, it helps the conference’s visibility and that filters down to other schools, particularly when it comes to media coverage and revenue.
Gruden to Miami? I still doubt it. But it would be the talk of college football — and when’s the last time that happened in the ACC?
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