This is what Jon Gruden should be doing, and I told him so.
The second annual "SportsCenter Special: Gruden's Quarterback Camp'' show, featuring five top quarterback prospects for the 2011 draft, will air Thursday night at 7 p.m. Eastern. Gruden analyzed video and worked out Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett and Cam Newton on a field at the University of South Florida. I've watched a few snippets of the show, and I'm more convinced than ever that this is Gruden's calling. This is what he should be doing full-time.
I know he wants to coach again, but with all due respect, he's one of many coaches who knows what he's doing. He might be the only one, however, who can look a prospect in the eye and talk to him, acerbically and authoritatively. He did it in this show with Locker, the oft-injured Washington quarterback. He showed a play on video with Locker whamming into a defender instead of sliding and avoiding the hit.
"See that right shoulder right there?'' Gruden said to Locker.
"Yeah,'' Locker said.
"We throw with that shoulder. You aware of that?'' Gruden asked.
"Yeah, I know that,'' Locker said.
"You get hit a lot in every game I pick up. HARD. You think you can use a little better -- I don't know -- get out of bounds or take care of your body, you know, get-out-of-bounds mentality?''
"I was trying to get down ... '' Locker began.
Gruden shot back: "Your ability to run is a weapon and a resource that has to be there for you for about the next 10 years of your career. You don't want to abuse that.''
When you listen to Gruden, you understand he's going to be a players' guy. He'll be pro-player most of the time. When I spoke to Gruden, he was mostly very sunny about every player, but you know that going in.
On Newton: "I've heard all the thunderstorms about his football character and his work ethic. When I was with him, he was great -- bright-eyed, eager, sharp, coachable, into it, alert, smart. I'd love to have a chance to get this guy. He can run over you and through you. Do you realize he ran for 1,500 yards last year. In the SEC. In the pros, the question will be, Can he handle the grind? I think he'll be wide open to that.''
Locker, he said, "is as tough as any man in this draft. He'll fight you, scrap with you. I think he's probably got to change facemasks at halftime every week. But there are some issues with his accuracy, for sure. I watch some throws and say, 'How'd he miss that? Mind-boggling.' But I see a big upside.''
Mallett, he said, had the advantage of being coached hard by a guy who knows what he's doing offensively, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. "Ryan's parents were both teachers, and he responded well to Petrino,'' Gruden said. "I think you can get on his ass. He responds to coaching.''
Gruden's careful not to pass judgment on the five guys, because he doesn't know how they've checked out on all the off-field evaluations. But I sensed he likes Newton, Dalton and Mallett the most of the group. Watch the show for yourself and see.
Jeff Fisher and Tedy Bruschi are going to the top of the world.
In mid-May, Fisher (the newly unemployed former Titans coach) and former Patriots linebacker Bruschi, along with ex-Eagles tight end Chad Lewis and four Wounded Warriors (Woundedwarriorproject.org) will gather on the east coast of Africa to climb 19,336-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa. They'll be doing so to raise awareness and money for those men and women wounded in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Funny thing: When Fisher first looked up Mount Kilimanjaro, he saw the height was about 6,000 ... and he though it was 6,000 feet. Nope. Meters. Multiply times three and a fraction.
Funnier thing: Fisher is finalizing a weekend of practice climbs and climbing at high elevation in Colorado for the weekend after next ... at the same time the NFL Draft is going on.
"I don't have any picks in the first few rounds,'' he said Sunday night, "so it's OK.''
Fisher, 53, sounded very happy in a phone conversation, the first I'd had with him since just after he and the Titans parted ways Jan. 27, after he'd coached the franchise for 16 full seasons. "When I wake up in the morning, I'm happy,'' he said. "It was not an easy decision [to stop coaching], but it was the right decision. My hope is to get back into coaching next year. For now, it'll be fun to see parts of the year coaches never get to see because we're always coaching. I'm going to take some time off, play some golf and watch my son play at Auburn.''
Trent Fisher, a redshirt freshman, is a walk-on safety for Auburn. Perfect timing for Jeff Fisher, who should be able to see all the games.
Fisher took a USO Coaches Trip to Afghanistan two years ago, then held a turkey shoot on his 260 acres for some wounded soldiers last year. "I'll do whatever I can for the Wounded Warriors because of what they've done for all of us,'' he said.
What he can do now, of course, is train for a five-and-a-half-day trip four miles into the sky. "It's becoming the focus of my day, every day,'' he said. "I'm always thinking, 'I've got to do something today to get ready for the climb.' ''
Almost last call for some really good fun.
Vince Wilfork, the rollicking Patriots nose tackle who is to New England what Big Papi is to the Red Sox, has joined the starry cast for the Matt Light Lockout Breakfast to be held April 26 at the Liberty Hotel in Boston. That brings three Patriot Pro Bowlers to the breakfast table for you to schmooze with and pose with and so forth. Tackle Matt Light and guard Logan Mankins will be there, as will former Patriots lineman Russ Hochstein, now with Denver. (Information: email@example.com, or www.mattlightfoundation.org.)
I'll host and give a draft tidbit or two, Patriots beat man Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston will delve into all things Patriot, and the players will have a excellent perspective on the labor issues. Light is the Patriots' player rep, Hochstein Denver's player rep, and Mankins one of the 10 named plaintiffs in the antitrust suit against the NFL.
Sounds like a great morning for all you lawyers -- clubhouse and otherwise -- to come and get the scoop on the labor deal, or lack thereof. The players will do photos, autographs and maybe even tell you a story or two on Tom Brady that'll make you the hit of the tailgate this fall when the games begin. If they do.
Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can make it in eight days at the Liberty Hotel.