Top 10 College Football Coaches For NFL Jobs

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Many expect Oregon coach Chip Kelly to say goodbye to the Ducks and make the jump to the NFL.

<p> Top 10 College Football Coaches For NFL Jobs, including Alabama's Nick Saban, Oregon's Chip Kelly, LSU's Les Miles, UCLA's Jim Mora, USC's Lane Kiffin, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, Stanford's David Shaw, Washington's Steve Sarkisian, Florida's Will Muschamp and Ohio State's Urban Meyer.</p>

With nearly one-third of the NFL coaching jobs expected to be vacant by year’s end — including sweet gigs like the Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints, as well as the revolving doors of the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars — silly season is officially upon us.

As always, the normal retread head coaches and rising star coordinators will be rumored for nearly every job opening. But so will a slew of big-name, high-dollar college football coaches. And with the recent success of the San Francisco 49ers’ Jim Harbaugh (formerly of Stanford), Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll (USC), Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Greg Schiano (Rutgers) and New York Giants’ two-time Super Bowl champ Tom Coughlin (Boston College), the stigma of hiring coaches from the college ranks has faded away.

Here’s a look at the top 10 college football coaches for NFL jobs, along with their pro resume, upside and downside, potential coaching style at the next level, and their odds of eventually ending up on an NFL sideline.



1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Age: 61

Notable NFL experience:
Head Coach, Miami Dolphins (2005-06; 15–17 record)
Def. Coordinator, Cleveland Browns (1991-94; under Bill Belichick)

Pros: Proven winner with NFL experience. Had a 9–7 record with the Dolphins in 2005 — with Gus Frerotte and Sage Rosenfels as his starting quarterbacks.

Cons: The Nick-tator walks on water in Tuscaloosa, where he has a statue just like Bear Bryant and is playing for his third national title in four years. Why would Saban leave?

Imagine: Bill Belichick excessive expectations with Jeff Fisher reasonable results.

Odds: 2-to-1 — It may not be this year, but Saban will return to the NFL one day; he’s too good to coach anywhere other than the big leagues.


2. Chip Kelly, Oregon
Age: 49

No NFL experience

Pros: Fearless, innovative offensive mind. Kelly’s influence is already being felt at the NFL level, with the Patriots’ implementing some of his fast-paced philosophies.

Cons: Not only does Kelly lack any NFL experience, he only has four seasons of head coaching experience on any level under his belt, having gone 45–7 at Oregon.

Imagine: Mike Martz mad scientist with Mike Shanahan mentality.

Odds: EVEN — As soon as the Fiesta Bowl is over, Kelly will fly the Ducks’ coop faster than his hurry-up offense can snap the ball.


3. Les Miles, LSU
Age: 59

Notable NFL experience:
TE Coach, Dallas Cowboys (1998-2000; under Chan Gailey)

Pros: Bold personality who takes charge and manages egos well. Miles has a persona that precedes him and could conceivably command respect in an NFL locker room.

Cons: The perception that LSU does more with Les is based on a history of odd behavior and poor clock management. Miles is a wild card with boom or bust potential.

Imagine: Barry Switzer swagger with Rex Ryan press conference quotes.

Odds: 10-to-1 — One day Jerry Jones will hand the Mad Hatter a white cap with the Cowboys’ blue star on it and Miles will accept the offer.



4. Jim Mora, UCLA
Age: 51

Notable NFL experience:
Head Coach, Seattle Seahawks (2009; 5–11 record)
Head Coach, Atlanta Falcons (2004-06; 26–22 record, 1–1 playoffs)
Def. Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers (1999-2003; under Steve Mariucci)
Son of Jim E. Mora, retired NFL head coach

Pros: High energy, likable personality with NFL pedigree. Mora has a division crown and NFC title game appearance from his days with Michael Vick in Atlanta.

Cons: Mora’s NFL win total went down in each of his four seasons, from 11 to eight to seven to five. He was replaced by two college coaches, Bobby Petrino and Pete Carroll.

Imagine: Jim E. Mora “playoffs?!” offspring with Dick Vermeil enthusiasm.

Odds: 3-to-1 — When the NFL calls, Mora will answer; if he has a few more seasons like this one at UCLA, the phone might ring again.


5. Lane Kiffin, USC
Age: 37

Notable NFL experience:
Head Coach, Oakland Raiders (2007-08; 5–15 record)
Son of Monte Kiffin, retired NFL def. coordinator

Pros: Wunderkind whose experience is remarkable for his age. Kiffin has already coached in the NFL, the SEC and at USC. Lane Kiffin is great at getting hired.

Cons: As impressive as his resume building may be, Kiffin has yet to establish himself as a good coach. This season’s fall from preseason No. 1 to unranked was embarrassing.

Imagine: Josh McDaniels entitlement without Bill Belichick’s blessing.

Odds: 15-to-1 — The youngest coach in NFL history (31 years, 8 months upon hiring) may be gun shy after being burned by Al Davis.


6. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Age: 57

Notable NFL experience:
OL Coach, Baltimore Ravens (1996-98; under Ted Marchibroda)
OL Coach, Cleveland Browns (1993-95; under Bill Belichick)

Pros: Belichick disciple who looks the part and can talk the talk. Ferentz has NFL experience and a history of producing quality O-linemen and D-linemen at Iowa.

Cons: The game seems to have passed by Ferentz, at least on an elite level. Ten years ago he was winning conference titles and would have been an exciting hire. Not anymore.

Imagine: Marty Schottenheimer calm under pressure with Chan Gailey intensity.

Odds: 20-to-1 — Overpaid to underachieve for the Hawkeyes, Ferentz has turned down too many chances to change his mind now.



7. David Shaw, Stanford
Age: 40

Notable NFL experience:
QB/WR Coach, Baltimore Ravens (2002-05; under Brian Billick)
QB Coach, Oakland Raiders (2001; under Jon Gruden)
Son of Willie Shaw, retired NFL def. coordinator

Pros: Rising star whose ascension through the ranks has yet to slow down. Shaw is an intelligent grinder who played for both Bill Walsh and Dennis Green at Stanford.

Cons: Much of Shaw’s success has been credited to Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck. He is still in the infant stages of running his own program as a head coach.

Imagine: Jim Harbaugh formula with Jason Garrett sideline demeanor.

Odds: 5-to-1 — Young enough to stay at Stanford for a decade and still make the jump, Shaw should coach on Sundays if he’s not a Cardinal lifer.


8. Steve Sarkisian, Washington
Age: 38

Notable NFL experience:
QB Coach, Oakland Raiders (2004; under Norv Turner)

Pros: Go-getter with tremendous upside. Sarkisian was on the NFL radar even before becoming a college head coach.

Cons: For all his potential, Sark has yet to show he’s anything special — posting a mediocre 26–24 record in four years at UW.

Imagine: Sean Payton confidence with Joe Vitt winning percentage.

Odds: 25-to-1 — It’s too early to call for Sark, who got a taste of the NFL coaching life but didn’t stick around for more than a cup of coffee.  


9. Will Muschamp, Florida
Age: 41

Notable NFL experience:
Def. Coordinator, Miami Dolphins (2005; under Nick Saban)

Pros: Fiery personality with respected defensive mind. Muschamp’s Dolphins defense ranked No. 15 overall and allowed 19.8 points per game in 2005.

Cons: Muschamp is a loose cannon who may not have the temperament for big time college football, let alone the pressure cooker of the NFL.

Imagine: Jack Del Rio-level strategist with illusions of Bill Cowher grandeur.

Odds: 50-to-1 — Muschamp’s demeanor is that of a retired NFL player, but he’s not. That act works in college but would not fly in the league.


10. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Age: 48

No NFL experience

Pros: Big name who would be an instant-gratification hire. Meyer is a calculating coach who can run a football factory, with two BCS national titles and two undefeated seasons.

Cons: Meyer has no NFL experience, has retired or taken a leave of absence twice for health reasons, and runs an offense that is not currently being implemented in the NFL.

Imagine: Steve Spurrier money-grab scheme with Bobby Petrino exit strategy.

Odds: 100-to-1 — If Dan Snyder opens up his wallet or the Cleveland Browns get desperate enough, Meyer might just take the money and run.


 

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