Examining The 20-Year Losing Streak Of College Coaches In The NFL

Getty Images

At a certain point, a trend transforms from correlation to causation. For instance, over the last 20 years, college football coaches making their first jump to the NFL have failed over and over again. And that trend reared its ugly head late Wednesday night after the Jacksonville Jaguars fired now ex-head coach Urban Meyer only eleven months after they hired him.

For the past twenty years, college head coaches have struggled to translate their success to the NFL. Since 2001, only four out of 12 coaches have produced winning records in the pros, and only one is active right now: Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals. And who were the other three coaches? John Harbaugh, Chip Kelly, and Bill O'Brien.

When looking beyond the collective 237-258-2 record of former college coaches, we have to remember these coaches went to non-competitive teams and dealt with untimely injuries and changes. And while that's considered a reasonable excuse for their failures, it shouldn't be. Nearly ever new NFL coach enters a messy situation because, after all, teams don't often make coaching changes when things are going swimmingly. Worse, coaches such as Kelly, Bobby Petrino, and Meyer were celebrated for being "program-builders," who could teach their new teams the kinds of patience and discipline that led to championship glory.

It's becoming evident that college coaches have to make a more significant adjustment with the NFL, even more so than the players. The latter have been preparing for this level since high school, so when any of them fail as a pro, it's mostly that: Failure. But the same can't be said for college coaches whose most recent experience consisted of having immensely-talented teams, non-challenging schedules, and a staff of assistants who do most of their hard work as they get to be a "motivator."

Following Meyer's ugly tenure with the Jaguars, one can wonder if both the NFL and college coaches will look away from each other. Even though Kingsbury can reignite their connection if his 10-3 Cardinals win the Super Bowl, it's doubtful any college coach will walk into the same situation as him. If you're an NFL team, be prepared to hire a coach already in the league and prepared to deal with the ups and downs at this level.

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down