U. Getting Gruden Screw Like NFL Network Did?

Sunday speculation exploded in the Miami media that Jon Gruden was closing in on a deal to coach the Miami Hurricanes.

Jon Gruden leaking pseudo interest in Miami job?

Hurricanes beat writer Manny Navarro of the MIAMI HERALD Tweeted Sunday evening, “Hearing Jon Gruden has agreed to $3.4 mil deal to become #UM’s next coach. Trying hard to confirm it officially.

Earlier Sunday Steve Gorten of the SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL had reported, “According to a UM source, former NFL coach Jon Gruden initiated contact with the university to express his desire for the job and that the interest is mutual.

Gruden agreeing to coach the Hurricanes would be a shocker, but if you believe Peter King, there’s virtually no chance it will happen.

King Tweeted Sunday night:

I’m hearing the Gruden-to-Miami rumors are fraudulent. But will keep you informed if I hear differently. Jon Gruden is not going to the University of Miami. Period.

To that end, the man who first broke Randy Shannon’s firing late Saturday, ASSOCIATED PRESS reporter Tim Reynolds, Tweeted Sunday:

Doesn’t sound like Miami expects an imminent signing: Jeff Stoutland to meet with reporters Tuesday morning.

But after his Tweet, Reynolds reported:

A person with knowledge of Miami’s search told The Associated Press on Sunday night that Jon Gruden received “parameters” of an offer from the Hurricanes. Gruden, the former Tampa Bay coach who now an ESPN analyst, is atop Miami’s wish list, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because university officials did not authorize the release of search details.

Sources familiar with the UM coaching search told me Saturday night that the school had contracted the coach placement firm run by Chuck Neinas to assist with the hire. Neinas charges a standard fee of $50,000 for his services, and with Miami Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt now on the record about having hired Neinas, the insta-hire of Gruden would be hard to believe.

So why then has Gruden’s name exploded in its association with the Miami job? Much like his name popping up previously with the Ohio State and Notre Dame jobs, the leak likely involves attempting to leverage the coach into a better NFL coaching arrangement.

Besides Notre Dame and Ohio State, King reported in 2009 that Gruden had agreed in principle to a deal with the NFL Network before backing out at the last moment to sign with ESPN.

Do not invite Gruden and NFL Network czar Steve Bornstein to the same event anytime soon, or ever. Bornstein wants to wring Gruden’s neck.

The NFL Network is furious with Gruden for jilting the network after he’d verbally agreed to a deal to work there. The former Bucs coach had been very good on the NFL Network, colorful and opinionated, at the NFL scouting combine and the NFL draft, and the network had finalized everything but the signature on the paper for Gruden to begin working there immediately.

In fact, he was slated to be at NFL Films this week to begin his job full time. But ESPN swooped in, offered Gruden the Monday night seat vacated by Tony Kornheiser (how convenient), and Gruden took it.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reported at the time that Gruden may have been using rumors of a deal with NFLN to spur ESPN into making a better offer.

And then there’s this vague statement by Gruden through ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday night:

ESPN MNF analyst Jon Gruden on speculatuon he could return to coaching: “I am committed to Monday Night Football and to ESPN.”

No mention of Miami or denial of interest in the Hurricane job - giving credence to speculation that perhaps the Gruden camp did leak details of possible interest in the job to improve his position at a future coaching opportunity.

If Gruden’s camp didn’t leak anything, and the reportage is all completely untrue, why didn’t Gruden say, “I’m not going to Miami.”?

Meanwhile Miami AD Hocutt has already started to release names to the public - via Neinas - of coaches the Canes are interested in. One of those coaches, Georgia coach Mark Richt, immediately said he wasn’t interested in returning to the school where he played quarterback.

Other big name coaches like Bob Stoops, Mack Brown and Tommy Tuberville have been mentioned as well, though Hocutt knows that none of those coaches would likely be interested in the job. More likely he’s throwing out some of the best in the business to placate alumni while he searches for real candidates.

Candidates like Oklahoma assistant coach Brent Venables, who I identified yesterday. A Big 12 coaching source told me yesterday that Venables, who played football at K-State with Hocutt in the early ’90s, is a leading candidate for the UM job.

Follow Brooks on Twitter for real-time updates.