Which football coaches might leave the college ranks for a more stable environment in the NFL?
College football coaching has recently become more of a challenge than it ever has been. There has always been university administration to deal with, boosters to amuse and alumni to keep happy. A lifeblood of college sports has been convincing teenagers to join your program. In addition to all of the duties that have been in place for decades, coaches now have to deal with transfers, NIL and conference realignment. At what point do the increasing demands outpace the increasing salaries?
We look at 10 head coaches that could make the leap from college football to the NFL.
Ryan Day, Ohio State
Day has kept Ohio State at a high level after taking over Urban Meyer’s program. If you look closely you may see some signs of things slipping from that difficult-to-maintain standard.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
Fickell will have a shot to compete on a larger stage as they head to the Big 12. Fickell has turned down bigger programs. Is he waiting for a call from the NFL?
Lincoln Riley, USC
Riley surprised us last season jumping from Oklahoma to USC. Does he have one more surprise for us?
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Expect the unexpected with Harbaugh. After last season, he had one foot out the door at Michigan and the other foot in the Minnesota Vikings’ offices. Don’t be surprised if he sniffs around the NFL again.
Lane Kiffin, Mississippi
He’s young and offensive minded. That alone puts you near the top of many NFL candidate lists.
Matt Campbell, Iowa State
The offers to lead more prestigious programs have been there for Campbell. With Oklahoma and Texas leaving a soon-to-be watered down Big 12, will Campbell look elsewhere?
PJ Fleck, Minnesota
Don’t shoot the messenger. It’s hard to see Fleck’s schtick working in the NFL.
Mel Tucker, Michigan State
Yes, he just signed a big contract extension with Michigan State after hearing from the NFL. Another year like last season and he might receive an NFL offer he can’t refuse.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
The Chicago Bears might be the only NFL job Fitzgerald would leave Northwestern for. The Chicago Bears just hired Matt Eberflus, so it might be a few years before the Fitz-to-Bears possibility resurfaces.
Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame
If Freeman lead Notre Dame to the College Football Playoff, it will happen. NFL teams will be calling.
We’ve reviewed the coaches that could leave by their choice. Check out the coaches that may not have that option in our College Football Hot Seat series: