|Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press|
|Art Briles' work with Robert Griffin III at Baylor linked him to the Redskins' vacancy this offseason.|
Baylor coach Art Briles, whose name was connected to the Washington Redskins job (which eventually went to Jay Gruden) in the offseason, said on Monday that the NFL is "kind of intriguing to me." Which current college coach do you think would have success in the NFL?
Shaw has stepped in admirably following Harbaugh's departureDavid Shaw would be an excellent head coach in the NFL. He has pro-coaching experience, he's very organized and he relates well to his players. A lot of people expected Stanford to drop off the map following Jim Harbaugh's departure after the 2010 season. Instead, the program has improved under Shaw and Stanford is among the favorites to win another Pac-12 title this fall.
Oklahoma's Stoops understands total pictureAt one time, coaching in college football and coaching in the NFL was a lot different. I think a lot of college programs are now understanding the passing game and the pro game better than ever before. That said, there are a number of college coaches -- like Chip Kelly, who left Oregon to have success with the Philadelphia Eagles -- who can come in and be successful in the NFL.
The person I would pick is Bob Stoops of Oklahoma. He understands the total picture, starting with how an offseason program needs to be run, what to do on offense and defense, and the importance of special teams. Stoops would be the person I would try to hire.
Dantonio's approach at MSU suits NFLMark Dantonio of Michigan State would be an ideal candidate from the college ranks to make the move to the NFL. Dantonio runs his program less on emotion and more like a business, which is exactly the approach NFL coaches have to take. He's a fantastic defensive mind who has worked under Nick Saban and Jim Tressel. Dantonio has never been an assistant coach in the NFL, so a lot would be new to him, but neither had Chip Kelly, who won the NFC East in his first season in Philadelphia. Surrounded by the right staff, Dantonio would settle right in.
NFL transition would be smooth for Stanford's ShawFirst on the list has to be a guy who already has turned down several opportunities to interview in Stanford's David Shaw. He has NFL experience and runs an offense that is remarkably similar to what most of the league runs. Shaw played for Bill Walsh and has a very similar demeanor on the field and in the meeting room. He won't leave Stanford anytime soon, but he'd be the first guy to get a call if I'm an owner looking for a new coach. A more realistic possibility might be Bob Stoops, who also could have success early on if he gave the NFL a look.
Franklin is one to watch at Penn StateI think there are a handful of college coaches that could have success in the NFL with the right fit, among them Briles, UCLA's Jim Mora and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly. (While Stanford's David Shaw frequently is mentioned as a potential NFL coach, I think he is too conservative to truly succeed in the NFL. I think he will get a shot sooner rather than later, though.)
For this exercise, I will go with Penn State's James Franklin. What he did at Vanderbilt was unbelievable, and I think he will have the same type of success at Penn State. I think he is extremely adaptable. He was very much the "rah-rah" type at Vandy, which was what that program needed. I think he will be a little less "rah-rah" at Penn State, though I think his personality will fire up the fan base and his players. I think he also does a nice job of adapting to his players' talents, focusing on what they do well and minimizing what they can't do. He also is extremely media-savvy.
Two Pac-12 coaches 'intrigue' me mostThere are a number of college coaches that I believe would have success in the NFL under the proper circumstances, but here are two that would -- to quote Art Briles -- "intrigue" me:
David Shaw of Stanford comes from terrific coaching bloodlines. His father, Willie Shaw, was a longtime assistant coach and coordinator in college and the NFL. During his playing career at Stanford, David Shaw played for Bill Walsh, and then prepped in the NFL under guys like Jon Gruden and Brian Billick, before running the offense for Jim Harbaugh. Shaw's style evokes an "old school" theme of physical football, but he can adapt, play multiple styles ... and beat you.
UCLA's Jim Mora has already had a couple of cracks at being a coach in the NFL with Atlanta and Seattle, but I'm a firm believer that his success after taking the UCLA job is not a fluke, and an omen to being successful in the NFL if he so desires another try. Why? He has the ability to evaluate talent, teach and motivate young, inexperienced players. Changing a culture at UCLA has made him a better coach. Remember, they said Pete Carroll could not carry over his college success -- he and Mora have similar traits.
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