Hard to believe that the coach who took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second season was regarded as a risky choice when Stanford plucked him from a Football Championship Subdivision school in San Diego to be its next head coach in 2007. After helping elevate the Cardinal into a national power, Harbaugh moved on to the NFL.
Here’s a local example. Following an extremely successful career coaching Oklahoma high school football, including 14 seasons and three state titles at powerhouse Tulsa Union, Blankenship ended up back at his alma mater as an assistant coach. After four years, he was promoted to head coach in 2011. The Golden Hurricane won the Conference USA title and the Liberty Bowl this past season.
Freeze first made the big jump from Briarcrest High School in Tennessee to an administrative spot in Mississippi’s football office to an assistant coach. Then after holding the head coaching job at Lambuth, an NAIA school in Tennessee, for two seasons, Arkansas State hired Freeze as its offensive coordinator. A year later, he was the head coach. A year after that, he was back at Ole Miss as the head coach.
After a brilliant career coaching Texas high school football, North Texas hired Dodge to be its head coach in 2006. It did not go well. He was fired in October 2010 after going 6-37 in his three-plus seasons. Following one season as Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks coach, Dodge went back to coaching Texas high school football.
Another local example. After a two-year stint with Division II’s East Central University in Ada, McCarty was hired to be the assistant head coach/offensive line coach on Ron Prince’s staff at Kansas State. After Prince was fired, McCarty returned to East Central.