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Published: June 4, 2015 at 10:58 a.m.
Updated: June 4, 2015 at 11:03 a.m.

15 for '15: College coaches ready for NFL

» Complete 15 for '15 series

CFB 24/7's "15 for '15" series continues with a look at the top head coaches in college football who are ready to take the next step and become NFL head coaches if the opportunity arises.

15 Photos Total

  • The son of a coach, Chryst is a former Badgers quarterback who has plenty of experience coaching at the college level to go along with stops with the San Diego Chargers (TE coach) and a season in the CFL as an offensive coordinator. His offenses might not be flashy, but they get the job done and are usually fairly balanced. He gets the most out of his quarterback and wouldn't have to change much moving up a level. 15

    Gene Puskar/Associated Press

    15. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

    The son of a coach, Chryst is a former Badgers quarterback who has plenty of experience coaching at the college level to go along with stops with the San Diego Chargers (TE coach) and a season in the CFL as an offensive coordinator. His offenses might not be flashy, but they get the job done and are usually fairly balanced. He gets the most out of his quarterback and wouldn't have to change much moving up a level.

  • A departure for the NFL would might be welcomed by some Bulldogs fans, given that Richt has been in Athens a remarkable 15 seasons. His calm demeanor and offensive mind would likely do just fine in the NFL. He's been running a pro-style offense with plenty of shotgun mixed in for ages, and has a very solid track record in the tough SEC. 14

    John Raoux/Associated Press

    14. Mark Richt, Georgia

    A departure for the NFL would might be welcomed by some Bulldogs fans, given that Richt has been in Athens a remarkable 15 seasons. His calm demeanor and offensive mind would likely do just fine in the NFL. He's been running a pro-style offense with plenty of shotgun mixed in for ages, and has a very solid track record in the tough SEC.

  • The Blue Devils' head coach will turn 61 in September and has spent nearly his entire career at the college level. However, any number of his NFL pupils at the quarterback position should surely be able to attest to his potential to be a coach at the next level. 13

    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    13. David Cutcliffe, Duke

    The Blue Devils' head coach will turn 61 in September and has spent nearly his entire career at the college level. However, any number of his NFL pupils at the quarterback position should surely be able to attest to his potential to be a coach at the next level.

  • Riley is no stranger to coaching on the professional level. He had a disastrous stint running the San Diego Chargers but won two Grey Cups while in charge of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. His pro-style system would translate seamlessly to the NFL and his nice-guy persona could serve as a nice foil to some of the more hardline personalities in the pro game. 12

    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    12. Mike Riley, Nebraska

    Riley is no stranger to coaching on the professional level. He had a disastrous stint running the San Diego Chargers but won two Grey Cups while in charge of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. His pro-style system would translate seamlessly to the NFL and his nice-guy persona could serve as a nice foil to some of the more hardline personalities in the pro game.

  • The lifelong Texan might only consider the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans as destinations if he were to ponder a jump up in competition. He's said that the thought of coaching in the NFL intrigues him. His brash attitude would fit in just fine, but the really fascinating part would be to see how his version of the spread offense would translate in the NFL. Fret not, though. Briles is no stranger to power-run schemes and knows multiple offenses that could help him adapt to the next level. He's ready for the NFL, but the NFL might not be ready for him just yet. 11

    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    11. Art Briles, Baylor

    The lifelong Texan might only consider the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans as destinations if he were to ponder a jump up in competition. He's said that the thought of coaching in the NFL intrigues him. His brash attitude would fit in just fine, but the really fascinating part would be to see how his version of the spread offense would translate in the NFL. Fret not, though. Briles is no stranger to power-run schemes and knows multiple offenses that could help him adapt to the next level. He's ready for the NFL, but the NFL might not be ready for him just yet.

  • A lot of the coaches on this list are offensive-minded, and for good reason given the nature of football these days, but Patterson's defensive expertise would be well-suited to moving up to the NFL given the diversity of his schemes. The complexities he layers on his players might translate better at the pro level given how much more time could be devoted to football, and few have been more successful than him when it comes to slowing spread offenses. 10

    Jim Cowsert/Associated Press

    10. Gary Patterson, TCU

    A lot of the coaches on this list are offensive-minded, and for good reason given the nature of football these days, but Patterson's defensive expertise would be well-suited to moving up to the NFL given the diversity of his schemes. The complexities he layers on his players might translate better at the pro level given how much more time could be devoted to football, and few have been more successful than him when it comes to slowing spread offenses.

  • Franklin has been exposed to plenty of NFL concepts throughout his college coaching career (he also spent a season with the Green Bay Packers) and it shows in the diverse offense he runs at Penn State. He's confident enough to make the jump to the pro game, and wouldn't mind firing up an organization that might need somebody to guide a turnaround. He's a relatively young guy, which doesn't hurt, either. 9

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    9. James Franklin, Penn State

    Franklin has been exposed to plenty of NFL concepts throughout his college coaching career (he also spent a season with the Green Bay Packers) and it shows in the diverse offense he runs at Penn State. He's confident enough to make the jump to the pro game, and wouldn't mind firing up an organization that might need somebody to guide a turnaround. He's a relatively young guy, which doesn't hurt, either.

  • You wouldn't expect a former college linebacker to be known for his offense, but that's what Sumlin's calling card is and one reason why a number of NFL clubs gauged his interest on coaching up a notch in the past few years. A hefty contract with the Aggies might delay that move, but the energetic, charismatic and very savvy Sumlin might not be able to turn down every NFL advance over the coming years. His ability to focus Johnny Manziel should be reason enough for him to be considered given those management skills. 8

    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    8. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

    You wouldn't expect a former college linebacker to be known for his offense, but that's what Sumlin's calling card is and one reason why a number of NFL clubs gauged his interest on coaching up a notch in the past few years. A hefty contract with the Aggies might delay that move, but the energetic, charismatic and very savvy Sumlin might not be able to turn down every NFL advance over the coming years. His ability to focus Johnny Manziel should be reason enough for him to be considered given those management skills.

  • Fisher has been producing first-round quarterbacks and NFL talent at an impressive clip, so it should come as no surprise that some pro franchises are already interested in making him a head coach. He fields very good defenses for an offensive-minded head coach, and his offensive system would need few alterations to adapt to the pro game. He has <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000483948/article/jimbo-fisher-recently-contacted-by-nfl-team-for-coaching-job" target="new">not ruled out moving up to the NFL</a>, so this is certainly a possibility down the road and it could result in a good fit. 7

    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    7. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

    Fisher has been producing first-round quarterbacks and NFL talent at an impressive clip, so it should come as no surprise that some pro franchises are already interested in making him a head coach. He fields very good defenses for an offensive-minded head coach, and his offensive system would need few alterations to adapt to the pro game. He has not ruled out moving up to the NFL, so this is certainly a possibility down the road and it could result in a good fit.

  • Dantonio has had a number of solid mentors in the coaching business -- including Nick Saban -- and has a mentality perfectly suited to the pro game. His defenses are among the best in college football each year, and his conservative nature in terms of offense obscures the fact that he attacks mismatches and isn't afraid to run a trick play to keep opponents on their toes. Dantonio might be happy in East Lansing, but he could make a very smooth transition to running an NFL franchise. 6

    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    6. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

    Dantonio has had a number of solid mentors in the coaching business -- including Nick Saban -- and has a mentality perfectly suited to the pro game. His defenses are among the best in college football each year, and his conservative nature in terms of offense obscures the fact that he attacks mismatches and isn't afraid to run a trick play to keep opponents on their toes. Dantonio might be happy in East Lansing, but he could make a very smooth transition to running an NFL franchise.

  • After leading the Irish to the BCS title game at the end of the 2012 season, there was a brief period of time when it looked like Kelly very much was on his way to an NFL club. He even interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles. He remains in the college ranks, but a move to the NFL remains a possibility for him, and it's not hard to see why pro teams would be interested considering he's won at basically every level of football. 5

    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    5. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

    After leading the Irish to the BCS title game at the end of the 2012 season, there was a brief period of time when it looked like Kelly very much was on his way to an NFL club. He even interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles. He remains in the college ranks, but a move to the NFL remains a possibility for him, and it's not hard to see why pro teams would be interested considering he's won at basically every level of football.

  • Stoops has flirted with the NFL over the years, and it will surprise few if he makes the jump before too long. He's done it all at the college level. A sharp defensive mind who has done a good job of adapting to his personnel on offense, Stoops remains an attractive candidate for NFL teams. 4

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

    Stoops has flirted with the NFL over the years, and it will surprise few if he makes the jump before too long. He's done it all at the college level. A sharp defensive mind who has done a good job of adapting to his personnel on offense, Stoops remains an attractive candidate for NFL teams.

  • UCLA has met just about every demand Mora has made for the program, but no one should be surprised if the longtime NFL coach -- he had only one season of college coaching experience prior to 2012 -- returns to the pro game. His competitive nature might drive him to try to prove he can be a consistent winner as a head coach in the NFL after failed stints with the Seahawks and Falcons. 3

    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    3. Jim L. Mora, UCLA

    UCLA has met just about every demand Mora has made for the program, but no one should be surprised if the longtime NFL coach -- he had only one season of college coaching experience prior to 2012 -- returns to the pro game. His competitive nature might drive him to try to prove he can be a consistent winner as a head coach in the NFL after failed stints with the Seahawks and Falcons.

  • The Bill Belichick disciple is no stranger to the NFL after stops with the Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns and, of course, as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. As such, he's perfectly ready to go back to coaching in the pros, and might carry even more weight with pro players than he did in his first head-coaching stop. Saban has been able to refine his "process" with the Crimson Tide, and if given the chance again in the NFL, he should be able to have much more success than he did in Miami. 2

    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    2. Nick Saban, Alabama

    The Bill Belichick disciple is no stranger to the NFL after stops with the Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns and, of course, as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. As such, he's perfectly ready to go back to coaching in the pros, and might carry even more weight with pro players than he did in his first head-coaching stop. Saban has been able to refine his "process" with the Crimson Tide, and if given the chance again in the NFL, he should be able to have much more success than he did in Miami.

  • If an NFL team with an opening is looking at college coaches, chances are that team will make a call to Shaw. He's unlikely to leave "The Farm" by choice anytime soon, but that doesn't mean he's not ready to make the jump after spending nearly a decade in the league with the Eagles, Raiders and Ravens. Some of his Cardinal predecessors have had plenty of success making the move to the NFL, and everything about Shaw's demeanor and the way he runs a program suggests he would be next in the Stanford line to rack up wins in the NFL. 1

    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    1. David Shaw, Stanford

    If an NFL team with an opening is looking at college coaches, chances are that team will make a call to Shaw. He's unlikely to leave "The Farm" by choice anytime soon, but that doesn't mean he's not ready to make the jump after spending nearly a decade in the league with the Eagles, Raiders and Ravens. Some of his Cardinal predecessors have had plenty of success making the move to the NFL, and everything about Shaw's demeanor and the way he runs a program suggests he would be next in the Stanford line to rack up wins in the NFL.