Raiders coach Jon Gruden made a virtual appearance at the University of Tennessee on Friday, but he wasn’t trying to get any “grumors” started or angling for a coaching job.

Like Peyton Manning a few weeks ago, Gruden made a surprise appearance online in an Introduction to Statistics class at UT and encouraged students to stay strong, stay positive and keep working during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gruden is entering his third season as the Raiders’ head coach.

While serving as color analyst on Monday Night Football, Gruden developed an obsession of sorts with Tennessee fans, many of whom clamored for him to be the Vols’ head coach any time the job came open over the past decade.

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It became such a phenomenon on Rocky Top that there were alleged Gruden sightings all over the Knoxville area, and some fans insisted he was giving hints that he was taking the job if there was a splash of orange in his tie during a Monday Night Football telecast — hence the term “grumors.”

Gruden has strong Tennessee ties. He served as a graduate assistant under Johnny Majors in the mid-1980s. His wife, Cindy, was a cheerleader for the Vols, and their middle son, Michael, is a recent UT graduate.

After returning to coaching with the Raiders, Gruden said he was never close to becoming Tennessee’s head coach, but he emphasized that he has always had strong feelings for the Vols. He reiterated as much to the students.

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