Don't blow another one, Jaguars: Hire Jay Gruden!

Why won't anybody listen to me?

Especially professional sports owners and general managers.

They think they know more than the rest of us when many times they really don't know as much (see the Magic's acquisition of Gilbert Arenas).

If the Jacksonville Jaguars had only listened last year, they might be way ahead of the game right now.

No, I'm not talking about the no-brainer move (acquiring Tim Tebow and building an offense around him) that the franchise with no brains refuses to execute. I'm talking about hiring Jay Gruden.

Remember last year at this time what I told the Jaguars – and the Dolphins for that matter?

Let me refresh your memory as to what I wrote:

"The Miami Dolphins need to hire Gruden as their head coach … The Jacksonville Jaguars need to hire Gruden as their head coach … He brings buzz and offensive imagination. He's won a Super Bowl ring and many other championships. He has Florida ties and knows how to coach young quarterbacks.

"No, knuckleheads, I'm not talking about Jon Gruden; I'm talking about Orlando's own Jay Gruden -- the first-year offensive coordinator for the shockingly good Cincinnati Bengals. … It would behoove the Jags or Dolphins to hire him while they still can."

Instead, as we know now, the Jags hired Mike Mularkey, who went 2-14 and was quickly fired after one miserable season.

Well, guess who the Jags interviewed Tuesday as Mularkey's potential successor?

Yep, Jay Gruden.

Granted, Jay, because he felt it would be disloyal to leave the Bengals after only one year as offensive coordinator, pulled his name out of contention last season for NFL head-coaching openings in Jacksonville, Miami, St. Louis, etc. But the Jaguars made the decision easy because they never really pursued him.

I've been telling people for years that Jay, not Jon, is the best coach in the Gruden family. Back when Jay was just an Arena League coach with the Orlando Predators, I scratched my head when Florida and Florida State wouldn't even give him a second glance as an offensive coordinator. Instead, they hired guys like Jeff Bowden and Steve Addazio. I even tried to tell the Miami Hurricanes when they ridiculously thought they were going to get Jon Gruden as their head coach that they should hire Jay instead.

Why won't anybody listen to me?

Now look at Jay. He's one of the hottest head-coaching candidates in the NFL, and you wonder if the Jaguars now have the cache to hire him. He's already interviewed for head-coaching jobs with the Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. If the Jags are lucky, he will choose Jacksonville because he loves living in Florida and he doesn't need a high-profile job in a glitzy city to be happy.

In fact, I've said it before and I'll say it again: If the Arena League hadn't gone bankrupt a few years ago, Jay would probably still be the head coach of the Predators. If he would've hired an agent and promoted himself years ago, he'd already be an NFL head coach. But he never went after big-time jobs because he just wanted to be left alone to run his own team, draw up his own ballplays, watch his kids grow up and make a decent living coaching the Preds. He got his NFL fix (and a Super Bowl ring) by being a part-time assistant on brother Jon's staff with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

"I'm happy here," Gruden told me once when he was coaching minor league football in Orlando. "I've never been a media hound. I don't care if my name is in the paper or being mentioned for big-time jobs. I don't have to be on 'Hard Knocks.'

"I just love coaching football, and I love coaching players that have a passion for the game. I've got players I like, a staff I like and a town I love to live in. My wife and kids are happy. I'm not dying to make the jump just because it's the NFL."

Now he's a rock star coach who every wayward NFL team wants to interview.

If the woebegone Jaguars are smart – and that's a big if -- they have already offered him the job and are drawing up the contract.

Why won't anybody listen to me?

mbianchi@tribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740 AM.

 

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