By Shan Shariff, 105.3 The Fan

On Wednesday, the latest Longhorns rumor lit up the sports world.

Jon Gruden….in Austin??

The very thought has Texas fans dreaming of a rebirth, and I see why.

Gruden’s recruiting power is at its peak because of his MNF fame. With the popularity of his QB show on ESPN, how could a blue chip recruit deny the Longhorns with Chucky in charge?

I’ve always felt Gruden’s weakness as a pro coach was his unhealthy obsession with quarterbacks. His last run in Tampa brought Chris Simms, Rob Johnson, Jeff Garcia, Tim Rattay, Luke McCown, Bruce Gradkowski and Brian Griese. That problem disappears in college where Gruden would get his hands on a brand new talent every 3-4 years. Greg Schiano has proven that intensity doesn’t always go over well on the professional level. Last time I checked, Gruden is still taking shots of Red Bull. The Texas fit makes absolute sense. But……

We’ve seen this game before. Nick Saban just got done using and abusing the Longhorns for a pay raise and extension, so understandably, Longhorn fans are skeptical. They’re asking all the right questions: “What’s the catch? Where’s the leverage? How are we being used THIS week?” Logic tells us Gruden wouldn’t use Texas against ESPN for a better television deal. There isn’t another blockbuster college opening that is big enough or has been tied to Chucky. But this story had to came out for SOME REASON, right?

What if the answer is….The. Dallas. Cowboys.

I got a phone call late Wednesday night saying the Gruden-to-Texas rumor wasn’t about Austin. It’s about Arlington. I was told the Gruden-Longhorns story surfaced because he wanted to gauge the reaction of Jerry Jones. Would this force a phone call from the Cowboys owner? Would Jerry bite on the possibility that Gruden would actually return to coaching?? Take it for what it’s worth because my recent track record isn’t perfect. Though I didn’t report anything, my gut feeling was wrong about Nick Saban coming to Texas. While I still believe it was close to happening, the fact is Nick isn’t moving into Mack’s office. My prediction didn’t happen.

Past evidence suggests Gruden to Austin won’t happen:

— Profootballtalk’s Mike Florio joins us every Friday morning at 8:30 on “New School.” On several occasions, Florio has mentioned Gruden as the next replacement for Jason Garrett. One of the main reasons cited by Florio is the current existence of Gruden’s old staff on the Dallas sidelines (Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and special teams coach Rich Bisaccia).

— USD athletic director Pat Haden said IF Gruden returns to coaching, he wants to do it in the pros.

— Former Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus worked with Gruden and still speaks with him to this day. On Thursday’s appearance on “New School,” Broaddus said “Jon wants to coach in the NFL. Longhorn fans shouldn’t get their hopes up.” The smoke is there. Will there be fire?

There are OBVIOUS questions: Why would Gruden want to work with Jerry Jones? Would Jerry finally relinquish power and control for a superstar coach? Can ANYONE push the Cowboys over this hump of mediocrity? Does Jerry need another big-name coach to save the apathy of fan-fans? Does Gruden believe in Tony Romo?

OR…. maybe these questions are ones Chucky has already answered. On his Thursday radio show, Dan Patrick said Jerry flew to Tampa two years ago to meet with Gruden. Hmm…….

Yes, I know- we’ve been here before with Gruden. Reports say Gruden isn’t leaving the MNF booth for the sidelines in 2014. But as we all know, sometimes the coaching itch doesn’t disappear. We’re still talking about two of the biggest stages in sports in the Longhorns and Cowboys.

I don’t know what Jon Gruden will do, but I do believe he’s officially set the bait.

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