With the reports this week that Urban Meyer has met with the Jacksonville Jaguars about their vacant head coaching position, it’s worth examining the recent history of college head coaches making the leap to the NFL. Spoiler alert: It’s not a rosy picture.
Meyer’s credentials speak for themselves. He’s won national championships at Ohio State and Florida. That said, Steve Spurrier also won a national title at Florida and he only lasted two seasons as an NFL head coach, finishing 12-20 at Washington. Dennis Erickson won two national championships at Miami-Fla., but he never made the playoffs in his six NFL seasons (four with Seattle, two in San Francisco).
Then again, Erickson had taken over at Miami when Jimmy Johnson left Coral Gables to become the Dallas Cowboys head coach, and that worked out pretty well — Johnson became the first head coach ever to win a college title and a Super Bowl. The coach who replaced Johnson in Dallas – legendary Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer — became the second man to accomplish the feat.
The only other head coach to pull it off is Pete Carroll — who is by far the most successful college-to-pro head coach in this century. Since 2000, Carroll is one of just three former college head coaches with a winning record in the NFL. Currently, there are two other NFL head coaches aside from Carroll who came directly from the college ranks — Carolina’s Matt Rhule and Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury. Will Meyer or any others join the list in 2021?
Here’s a breakdown of the college-to-NFL coaches since 2000: