Tennessee football has been linked to Jon Gruden and Nathan Peterman in the past. Both now being with the Oakland Raiders should amuse Volunteers fans.
There’s not a lot of love that Tennessee football has for Jon Gruden. After all, he swindled the Vols twice, in 2012 and 2017, feeding into rumors of being their next head coach all because he likes being courted, and then he turned that into a huge contract with the Oakland Raiders.
Meanwhile, Nathan Peterman played in two games on Rocky Top at quarterback, so his ineptitude is well-documented there. In one half in 2013 and one half in 2014, Vol fans were subjected to him, and it was not pretty.
As a result, there is probably nobody who should be laughing harder than Vol fans right now with the report that Gruden is falling in love with Peterman as a backup to Derek Carr. Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlkin of the Las Vegas Review-Journal initially tweeted out that quote.
Since Vol fans have some resentment to Gruden and know how Peterman collapses in major moments, this is hilarious for them. They are laughing harder than anybody else is in the NFL given their historical connections to the two.
Butch Jones made the horrendous decision to start Peterman over Justin Worley against the Florida Gators in 2013, and then he started him over Joshua Dobbs against the Alabama Crimson Tide, trying to protect Dobbs’s redshirt, in 2014. Both outings were disasters.
Peterman’s horrific play both times cost the Vols. They would have beaten Florida in 2013 if Jones started Worley. And he was so bad en route to a 27-0 deficit against Alabama that Jones had to go ahead and burn Dobbs’s redshirt. Dobbs brought the Vols back and made the loss a respectable 34-20 before taking a huge step forward the next week.
Fast-forward to 2017. Jones is in the midst of a downward spiral as head coach of the Vols, resulting in his firing before the season end. Meanwhile, Peterman becomes the poster boy for people angry about Colin Kaepernick not being in the league given how bad he was with the Buffalo Bills.
As Peterman does what Vol fans could have predicted him doing in the midst of his collapse, rumors of Jon Gruden to Tennessee football don’t stop. They begin in the bye week and last until the last game is played. Gruden fed them, posing for pictures in Knoxville and never openly admitting anything.
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With his wife being a UT grad and him getting his first opportunity there as a grad assistant in the 1980s, he seemed like the perfect home run hire. If boosters were willing to break the bank, taking a chance on him and then getting an NFL staff seemed like the right move. But it turned out Gruden was never interested, and a disaster of a coaching search began.
Sure, the Vols ended up with Jeremy Pruitt. And Gruden ended up back in the NFL. And Phillip Fulmer is back with the program, now as athletic director. But it’s pretty clear that Gruden did John Currie no favors by not only not denying the rumors but appearing to encourage them.
So every Vol fan welcomes his love for Peterman. They know what that will turn into. After all, Carr has a very bad history with injuries, so Peterman could definitely step in and play some in the future if the breaks don’t go Gruden’s way.
Now, to be fair to Peterman, after he transferred from Tennessee football, he did have two solid years with the Pittsburgh Panthers, which got him drafted in the first place. Ironically, Jim Chaney was his initial offensive coordinator in 2015 and likely helped his game enough to get some national recognition.
But the issues of not being able to handle the bright lights arose again in the NFL. Peterman’s sole problem is that, and Gruden won’t see it because of how great he may look in practice. So Vol fans may get more from Peterman than ever before if he becomes the starter and plays horrible again, making Gruden look even worse. The pettiness is real on this front.