NFL teams scour the college ranks for coaching candidates

COMMENTARY — Just like in the 1970s, pro teams are looking for innovators from the ranks of college head coaches.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 22, 2013
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photo - Philadelphia Eagles new head coach Chip Kelly speaks during a press conference at the team's NFL football training facility, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)   ORG XMIT: PAMR117
Philadelphia Eagles new head coach Chip Kelly speaks during a press conference at the team's NFL football training facility, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) ORG XMIT: PAMR117

Hiring college coaches was all the rage in the '70s. No college coach got an NFL head coaching job from 1961-70, and only eight in the 40 years before that. But then they came in droves.

Dan Devine and Tommy Prothro in '71. Bill Peterson and John Ralston in '72. Fairbanks and Don Coryell in '73. John McKay, Dick Vermeil and Lou Holtz in '76. The trend slowed, eventually to a trickle. Between 2002 and 2010, only three college coaches were hired — one of them was a joke, the Raiders' Lane Kiffin, and the other two, Miami's Nick Saban and Atlanta's Bobby Petrino, lasted a combined 45 games.

But now comes the newest wave, some with great success.

Jim Harbaugh might not be the best football coach in own family — or he might be the best football coach in the world. Super Bowl 47 will help us know. Carroll, thought to be an NFL failure when he went 33-31 with the Jets and Patriots in the '90s, has turned the Seahawks into a power.

NFL decision-makers often are lemmings. The success of the 49ers and Seahawks will cause them to scour college campuses.

They all would covet Saban. And Stanford's David Shaw, Penn State's Bill O'Brien, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin remain hot candidates. Plus others we don't see coming, since college football is loaded with Greg Schianos.

Or even Stoops and Gundy. You never know.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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