Report: Gruden, Miami to finalize details of a contract

As we discussed here at the NFP Sunday afternoon, ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden is reportedly the top candidate to replace Randy Shannon at the University of Miami.

The Gruden-to-Miami story blew up throughout the afternoon and into the evening Sunday but had seemingly slowed down after a prominent journalist refuted the story on Twitter.

But where there's smoke, there's always fire. And the 47-year-old Super Bowl-winning coach unquestionably remains a candidate for the open position.

Steve Gorten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday evening that the possibility of the former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Bucs head coach becoming the leader of the Hurricanes program “definitely still is in play,” according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Jon GrudenICONJon Gruden would be the slam-dunk hire Miami desires.

Discussions have continued between both sides despite Gruden’s statement through ESPN Sunday night that he is “committed to Monday Night Football and to ESPN.”

Gorten tweeted Tuesday night that a meeting between Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt and Gruden, which was reportedly scheduled for Wednesday, may even happen tonight.

According to Gorten’s source, Gruden and the university have yet to agree upon the length of a contract, but money does not appear to be an issue. The television analyst reportedly initiated contact with the school a few weeks before Hocutt fired Shannon on Saturday night.

There does remain concern within the Miami administration, however, that Gruden could still jump to the NFL — which would potentially set back the program even further.

Miami is clearly looking to make a splash with this hire, and Gruden would give the Hurricanes a fiery, offensive leader — essentially the opposite of the ousted Shannon.

The same source believes that Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen likely would be the Hurricanes' next choice if an agreement isn't reached with Gruden.

Check out the brand-new NFP Message Boards and let your voice be heard on all things college football.

Email or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

Will Smith calls his arrest 'unfortunate misunderstanding'

New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, who was arrested Saturday morning and charged with domestic battery in Lafayette, La., has released a statement through the team.

“During the past weekend, my wife Racquel and I were visiting her family in Lafayette, Louisiana for the holiday weekend,” Smith's statement reads. “Early Saturday morning, an unfortunate misunderstanding led to my arrest.

“My wife was not injured as reported and this was not a domestic issue. I am confident that the legal process will bear this out. Both Racquel and I look forward to having the legal process play out and will cooperate fully. Until then, and based upon legal counsel, I will not be able to make any further comment on this matter.

“Racquel and I are both extremely thankful to everyone that has offered support through this trying time.”

Reports indicated that Smith was dragging his wife down the street by her hair outside a night club at 2 a.m. Officers witnessed Smith arguing with her before the altercation. Smith was released on $1,000 bond.

Stay tuned to see how this one plays out.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Antrel Rolle fed up with booing fans

Looks like Antrel Rolle has engaged in a war of words, and this isn’t one he has any chance of winning.

The safety, who the New York Giants paid big for in free agency, isn’t happy with the team’s fans. Not one bit. Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reports that Rolle is hacked off the fans at New Meadowlands Stadium have been booing the team on occasion.

Uh oh.

As Vacchiano wrote, Rolle broke the “cardinal rule” and now it’s hard to imagine the Big Blue faithful not pouring it on Rolle, who came from the Arizona Cardinals after spending five seasons there.

“You don't boo your team,” Rolle said in a paid appearance on WFAN. “I don't care what happens. You don't boo your team.

“You don't boo your team,” Rolle said. “This is your home team. We're out there playing. We're out there pouring our heart out for our team and for our fans. You don't boo your team. I don't care what the situation is. You don't boo your team.

“You know, we're 7-4. We're not 2-10, you know?” he continued. “There's going to be ups and downs during the season. (Not) under any circumstances should you boo your team. That's just the reality of it.”

Rolle was paid $37 million in his contract and what he fails to understand is that fans don’t care what he thinks. After they’ve paid their hard-earned money for tickets to attend games, they’re going to voice their displeasure if the product doesn’t meet their satisfaction. They’re going to be that much louder now if Rolle’s play doesn’t meet expectations.

It’s like when former Chicago Bears quarterback Cade McNown suggested fans who boo would be better off staying at home and serenading their television. They just piled on McNown from that point forward. Look out, Antrel.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Tramon Williams gets 4-year extension from Packers

If there was an upside to the knee injury that knocked out veteran cornerback Al Harris last season for the Green Bay Packers, it was the discovery that, yes, Tramon Williams will be a top-notch defensive back in the league for years to come.

To ensure that time is spent in Green Bay, the Packers signed Williams to a four-year contract extension today, according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The contract averages $8.25 million per season and has a total value of $33.074 million, running through 2014.

Per McGinn, the deal includes a $6 million signing bonus and guarantees Williams $11.074 million. The 27-year-old Williams is now the fourth-highest paid player on the roster behind only quarterback Aaron Rodgers, fellow cornerback Charles Woodson and wide receiver Greg Jennings.

It’s a great windfall for Williams, who was an undrafted free agent, and a credit to general manager Ted Thompson and the coaching staff.

That was the big move of the day. The Packers also placed linebacker Brandon Chillar (shoulder) and tight end Spencer Havner (hamstring) on injured reserve. Green Bay has now placed 13 players on IR this season.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Buccaneers make series of roster moves

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a series of roster moves today, placing three players on injured reserve: safety Cody Grimm, guard Davin Joseph and defensive end Kyle Moore.

The Bucs also released veteran safety Sabby Piscetelli, who had been beaten out for a starting job by the rookie Grimm, and signed safety Larry Asante off the practice squad of the Cleveland Browns.

Promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster were safety Vince Anderson, wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe and guard Brandon Carter. Finally, Tamoa signed wide receiver Ed Gant and defensive end E.J. Wilson to the practice squad.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

No joke, Derek Anderson keeps starting job in Arizona

Derek Anderson gets the last laugh.

Or something like that.

However you choose to look at it, the veteran will remain the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals this week after another poor performance Monday night in the team’s 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Drawing more attention than Anderson play on the field was his composure off the field when ESPN cameras caught him yukking it up with teammate Deuce Lutui late in the blowout, a point analyst Jon Gruden hammered.

Asked about the incident after the game, Anderson blew up in his press conference. Still, coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t want to turn to rookie options on the team – Max Hall or John Skelton. Whisenhunt maintains that Anderson gives the team the best chance to win.

“Listen, nobody likes this,” Whisenhunt said, according to the team’s Web site. “If people think we are content, that’s wrong. It hurts. It hurts to lose games like that, it hurts to hear our fans boo, especially with everything we have done to make some progress (the last few years). … You feel like you have worked hard to get your fans’ trust. Nothing is going to be easy in this league. We are working to try and get back to where we feel we represent our city and our fans well.

“I’m not going to sit here and ask for patience because people pay money to come watch us play and their expectations are for us to be better than what we have done. I am just telling you, there is everyone here in this organization, from top to bottom, to make sure that happens. I believe we are going to get it right.”

Whisenhunt said he will not play Skelton this year unless forced to do so by injuries because he doesn’t want to run the risk of stunting development.

“You run the risk of damaging a young guy,” Whisenhunt said.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

49ers make it official with Frank Gore, place him on IR

The revitalized San Francisco 49ers made it official with running back Frank Gore, placing him on season-ending injured reserve with a fractured right hip.

Gore was injured in the first quarter Monday night in the 49ers’ 27-6 victory at Arizona. T

“It is unfortunate that we had to place Frank on IR,” coach Mike Singletary said in a statement released by the team. “He is not only a great football player, but a tremendous leader. He plays with such passion and desire, two traits that will serve him well as he recovers from the injury.”

Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon will have to handle the rushing chores the rest of the way for the Niners. They promoted running back DeShawn Wynn from the practice squad also giving them another option.

The Gore move wasn’t the only one made. San Francisco also placed wide receiver Dominique Ziegler, who has a torn ACL in his left knee, on IR. Safety Chris Maragos was promoted from the practice squad to take his place.

In a sign that kicker Joe Nedney could be healed up, the 49ers released Shane Andrus. They also waived offensive tackle Xavier Fulton from the practice squad.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

NFP Power Rankings

Every week, the National Football Post brings you our NFL Power Rankings: a breakdown of how we stack up the league.

Week 13 Rankings (previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. (1) New England Patriots: 9-2
Tom Brady made it look easy against the Lions secondary on Thanksgiving as the Pats kept rolling.

Darrelle RevisICONRevis and the Jets head to New England on Monday night.

2. (2) New York Jets: 9-2
Expect plenty of Rex Ryan talk this week leading up the Monday night game in New England.

3. (3) Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-3
The Steelers survived the Bills in OT and now travel to Baltimore in a game that should determine the AFC North champ.

4. (5) Atlanta Falcons: 9-2
Can we all agree that the Falcons are a legit favorite in the NFC?

5. (6) Baltimore Ravens: 8-3
The Baltimore talk has been quiet, but that will change if they sweep the Steelers with a win on Sunday night.

6. (7) New Orleans Saints: 8-3
Remember the defending champs? They are getting hot at the right time.

7. (9) Chicago Bears: 8-3
That is the type of production the Bears have been expecting from Jay Cutler.

8. (10) San Diego Chargers: 6-5
Is there any doubt that the Chargers are going to be on top of the AFC West at the end of the season?

9. (4) Philadelphia Eagles: 7-4
Michael Vick looked human at times in the loss at Chicago.

10. (9) Green Bay Packers: 7-4
Can Aaron Rodgers get a little help from his running game in Green Bay?

11. (12) New York Giants: 7-4
The comeback win against the Jags might have saved the Giants’ season.

12. (11) Indianapolis Colts: 6-5
When was the last time Peyton Manning looked that uncomfortable in the pocket?

Matt CasselICONCassel and the Chiefs rolled up over 500-yards of offense in Seattle.

13. (15) Kansas City: 7-4
That was an offensive explosion for the Chiefs in the blowout win at Seattle.

14. (14) Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-5
The Jags had a meltdown in the second half at New York, but still control the AFC South.

15. (13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-4
Despite the loss at Baltimore, we have to give credit to Raheem Morris’ squad—because they always compete.

16. (15) Miami Dolphins: 6-5
The Dolphins figured out that feeding the ball to Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams is the only game plan they need.

17. (25) Minnesota Vikings: 4-7
Leslie Frazier gets his first win as the Vikings coach and he will get more if Minnesota plays like they did in the win at Washington.

18. (20) Houston Texans: 5-6
The Texans should thank the league office for allowing them to have Andre Johnson in the lineup for Thursday night’s game at Philly.

19. (17) Washington Redskins: 5-6
Hard to figure out the ‘Skins, but we can count them out of any playoff talk in Shanahan’s first season.

20. (16) Oakland Raiders: 5-6
Tom Cable isn’t going to win when his club runs the ball 12 times for 16-yards.

21. (24) St. Louis Rams: 5-6
Should the league just hand out the Rookie of the Year award to Sam Bradford now?

22. (21) Cleveland Browns: 4-7
Peyton Hillis continues to prove that he is one of the best power backs in the league.

23. (20) Dallas Cowboys: 3-8
Jason Garrett was close to winning his third straight, but the Cowboys—and Roy Williams—failed to close out the Saints.

24. (18) Tennessee Titans: 5-6
With Rusty Smith at QB, it is time to close the book on the Titans.

Pete CarrollICONCan Carroll and the Seahawks put it together and win the NFC West?

25. (23) Seattle Seahawks: 5-6
Pete Carroll has the most inconsistent team in the league.

26. (26) San Francisco 49ers: 4-7
The Niners are only one game out in the NFC West, but getting it done without Frank Gore will be a challenge.

27. (27) Buffalo Bills: 2-9
Chan Gailey is doing the right things in Orchard Park—and the Bills are playing hard.

28. (31) Detroit Lions: 2-9
The Lions just can’t put it together under Jim Schwartz.

29. (29) Denver Broncos: 3-8
Is Josh McDaniels really coming back in 2011?

30. (30) Cincinnati Bengals: 2-9
The Bengals become more of a disappointment every time they play.

31. (28) Arizona Cardinals: 3-8
Can’t remember a more pathetic performance on a Monday night stage.

32. (32) Carolina Panthers: 1-10
The head coaching candidates are already starting to surface for the 2011 season in Carolina.

Follow the NFP on Twitter: @FootballPost

McCarney hired at North Texas

Dan McCarney has been hired at North Texas to rebuild the Mean Green program.

The former Iowa State head coach inherits a team that has posted a 13-58 record in six seasons since enjoying a four-year run of winning the Sun Belt conference. McCarney had been assistant head coach at Florida since 2008.

Dan McCarneyICONDan McCarney is taking over the North Texas program.

“Why not North Texas? Why not bowl games? Why not championships?” McCarney said. “We don't have to make excuses for anything. We don't have to talk about what we don't have because of the leadership of [university administration]. We're going to try to make this one of the most special places in all of college football.”

McCarney is the highest-profile hire at North Texas since Hayden Fry in the 1970s. He signed a five-year deal that will pay an annual salary in the mid-six figures — much more than what the fired Todd Dodge received after being hired from nearby Southlake Carroll High School.

The 57-year-old McCarney went just 56-85 from 1995 to 2006 at Iowa State, but the Cyclones went to five bowls under his leadership.

North Texas athletic director Rick Villarreal also seriously considered Steve Kragthorpe and Dennis Franchione.

The Mean Green will open an on-campus $78 million stadium next season.

Check out the brand-new NFP Message Boards and let your voice be heard on all things college football.

Email or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave