College coaches in the NFL
- Published: Jan. 16, 2013 at 03:07 p.m.
- Updated: Jan. 16, 2013 at 05:48 p.m.
The Philadelphia Eagles have hired Chip Kelly to be their next head coach. Eagles fans can only hope that Kelly -- who experienced an amazing run of success at the University of Oregon -- won't struggle to adjust to the professional game. While a select few college football coaching icons have found success, many more failed miserably.
Failed: Nick Saban
When Alabama demolished Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, it marked the fourth national title Saban has won. Saban's two-year tenure with the Miami Dolphins was a major disappointment. After a 9-7 finish in 2005, Saban's team dropped to 6-10 in 2006 and the coach bolted for 'Bama. Dolphins fans didn't miss him.
Failed: Steve Spurrier
Spurrier's reign with the Washington Redskins can best be symbolized by a hilarious moment of frustration captured by cameras on "Monday Night Football." The "old ball coach" didn't bring his college success from the University of Florida with him to the nation's capitol, winning just 12 games in two seasons. In 2012, Spurrier was back in the news, but this time for testing the boundaries of reality by suggesting that Alabama could beat some bottom-feeding NFL teams.
Failed: Lou Holtz
Holtz is a college football coaching legend, and many forget about the blemish that was his failed one-year tenure with the New York Jets in the mid-1970s. With the Jets, Holtz tried to run an option-style veer offense with Joe Namath (who at that time had undergone numerous surgeries on both knees) and also came up with a hokey college-style fight song to attempt to fire up his team. The Jets finished 3-11 in 1976, and Holtz wisely returned to the friendly confines of the college campus.
Failed: Dennis Erickson
Erickson took over for Jimmy Johnson when he left for the Dallas Cowboys, and continued to lead the Miami Hurricanes to unprecedented success. Under Erickson's watch, the 'Canes won two national championships and attained an 87.5 winning percentage (which is the highest in program history). Erickson made the jump to the NFL in 1995 with the Seattle Seahawks, for whom he couldn't get beyond an 8-8 plateau in four seasons with the team. Erickson returned to the NFL in 2003 with the San Francisco 49ers, and his 2-14 season in 2004 is one of the worst in franchise history.
Failed: Bobby Petrino
Petrino was lured away from Louisville by the Atlanta Falcons to help in Michael Vick's development as a most-polished NFL quarterback. Instead, Vick landed in prison for his involvement in an illegal dog-fighting operation, and Petrino's Falcons were without their talented passer. What followed was a season to forget, and a departure that left Petrino vilified by many in the NFL. Two days after being embarrassed by the New Orleans Saints on "Monday Night Football," Petrino skipped out of Atlanta to go coach Arkansas, thus creating one of the most awkward press conference moments in recent memory.
Succeeded: Tom Coughlin
Coughlin left Boston College to become the first coach in Jaguars history, and then led Jacksonville to the AFC Championship in just its second season of existence. As impressive an accomplishment as that might be, Coughlin's run with the New York Giants has been more decorated. Coughlin has won two Super Bowls with the Giants, including one that halted the New England Patriots' run at perfection in Super Bowl XLII.
Succeeded: Jim Harbaugh
After helping build Stanford into a Pac-12 powerhouse, Harbaugh returned to the NFL (where he'd spent 14 seasons with four teams as a quarterback) to guide the San Francisco 49ers back to prominence. In his first two seasons in San Francisco, Harbaugh has led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game.
Succeeded: Jimmy Johnson
After replacing the supremely popular Tom Landry, Johnson took three years to rebuild the Dallas Cowboys and help the franchise recapture its "America's Team" aura. The Cowboys won two Super Bowls under Johnson, and then a third with a team essentially constructed by Johnson.
Succeeded: Pete Carroll
Sandwiched between stints in the NFL was one of the great runs of success in college football. Carroll rebuilt Southern California into a national power, winning one BCS Championship Game in 2005 after being voted national champions in back-to-back years by the Associated Press. Carroll returned to the NFL in 2010, and has led the Seattle Seahawks to the playoffs in two of three seasons.
Succeeded: Paul Brown
Before becoming one of the NFL's greatest innovators, Brown led Ohio State to its first national championship in 1942. In 1946, Brown took over the Cleveland Browns and started one of the greatest stretches of success in pro football history.