Gruden staying put for now

Jon Gruden withdrew his name from consideration for the vacant head coaching position at Notre Dame but denied reports that he had signed a five-year extension with the Raiders.

Gruden had been the reported leading candidate for the job at Notre Dame ever since Bob Davie was fired as head coach of the Fighting Irish this past Sunday. Several reports indicated Gruden was all but sealed and delivered to the South Bend, Ind. university, but Gruden on Thursday took his name out of hat of potential candidates for the job. ''I'm not a candidate for the job,'' said Gruden. ''I've got a job. I've tried to say that from the very beginning and I don't want to speculate on any other job, except the job I have. All I can comment on is the Oakland Raiders and that's all I know right now, unfortunately.'' There had been a groundswell of support for the Notre Dame job, much of it from the Fighting Irish student body. One sign hanging from a building on campus read, 'All I want for Xmas is Jon Gruden.' Before Thursday, Gruden had not officially said he wasn't interested in the job which only added to the rumor mill. But with Oakland in the thick of a playoff chase, and at 8-3 holding a two-game lead in the AFC West, Gruden decided it was best to put the Notre Dame rumors to rest by withdrawing his name from consideration. ''I didn't want to answer any more questions, honestly,'' said Gruden. ''Notre Dame's a great school and I'm sure they're going to have a great coach and do great things. I'll be rooting for them. I've always been a Notre Dame fan, I always will be. ''I try not to worry about the bad things people say. I've heard a lot of bad things. Every once in a while you get maybe mentioned in a job, it's exciting but you have to understand that sometimes the best thing to do is just concentrate on the job you have. We have a lot of work to do and that's what I'm doing here.'' In other Raiders news, defensive tackle Darrell Russell missed his second straight day of practice while attending a hearing to discuss his appeal of a potential one-year suspension. Russell has reportedly tested positive for the drug Ecstasy, which, if true, would be his third violation of the league's substance abuse policy. A fourth strike for Russell, who missed the first four games of this seasson while serving a league-mandated suspension, could mean a ban for life from the NFL. ''We've had contact with Darrell and we expect him to be here ready to practice tomorrow,'' said Gruden on Wednesday. ''The league doesn't tell me anything. I dont want to speculate. I know nothing. We'll just hopefully get some information tomorrow when Darrell returns.'' Right tackle Mo Collins, cornerback Charles Woodson and fullback Jon Ritchie also did not practice Thursday. Of the three, Woodson is the most likely to play. Gruden said the news on Ritchie, who has a high ankle sprain, was not good and he estimated the fullback could be sidelined 3-5 weeks.

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