Another year of college football is over, and that means certain programs must worry about their coaches leaving. Some must worry that their head coach will jump to the NFL. We look at the five top coaches that could make the jump when the NFL comes calling.
College Football Coaches That Could Make Jump to NFL
This one seems obvious. Harbaugh’s success at the collegiate level continues as his Michigan Wolverines have their sights set on a national championship this year. He’s accumulated a 74-24 record in Ann Arbor, pushing him to 103-45 overall in college. He also has experience at the next level too.
From 2011 to 2014, Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers to a 44-19-1 record, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2012. More recently, there were rumors connecting him to the Minnesota Vikings. The past offseason showed Michigan fans that Harbaugh still has an interest in the NFL, and a national championship could be the last straw to get him back there.
There’s only one step for Kirby Smart to take, and that’s only if he wants it. He’s already one of the best college football coaches, and his Georgia Bulldogs are a national powerhouse. So what would be the next challenge? The NFL. He might just like keeping Georgia in the national conversation, but he has the talent to succeed at the next level.
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A big reason why Smart is one of the best coaches in college football is his ability to adapt and introduce new concepts. College football constantly changes, and Smart’s found ways to get with the times. His intuition would help him be a great NFL head coach someday. If he doesn’t want to go pro, Georgia fans would be elated.
Nick Saban isn’t giving up football ever. I’m convinced of it. He’ll be on this list every year regardless of how old he is, and it’s for good reason. The man knows how to coach. Saban knows how to win and how to adapt to the times, and he has numerous connections at the next level.
Saban has the Alabama job as long as he wants it, thanks largely to his 193-27 record in Tuscaloosa, along with his 7 career national championships. Saban knows what NFL talent looks like, as evidenced by his record 46 first-round picks, with Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. likely to add to that list.
It might be time for Swinney to jump ship while his stock is still attractive. While the Tigers finished 11-2 this year, it was full of struggles and frustrations. Swinney’s also been mocked for his comments about quitting if players get paid, so it might be time for a reset for both parties.
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Under Swinney, Clemson has amassed a record of 161-38 with 2 national championships. He’s been linked to the NFL for years now, but that door might be closing. Clemson hasn’t been to the College Football Playoff since 2019, and there are growing concerns surrounding the lack of offensive firepower lately.
One of the most average college football coaches found success in the NFL as a head coach. So if Kliff Kingsbury can do it, imagine what someone like Lincoln Riley can do. Riley just produced yet another Heisman Trophy winner in Caleb Williams, and that ability to develop talent will make him great at the next level.
Riley’s a master at creating new concepts for his offenses, and his great mind would thrive at the next level. They say the NFL game follows the college game in terms of innovation, but Riley could change that, too. He’s one of the greatest offensive minds we’ve seen, and some NFL team is going to reach out to him to give him a shot.