You want to start a fight? Walk into a hotel lobby full of NFL executives and shout aloud the question, "Hey, do you think college coaches can make in the pros?" Then just sit back and watch the room turn into a bunkhouse stampede.
For decades it seemed the conga line of coaches moving in from college were sent back to campus with bruised egos and lopsided win-loss records. But in recent seasons, the results from head coaches who have moved over to the pros have been as good as they’ve been bad. At least they are certainly not the forgone conclusions they once were.
For every Nick Saban bailing on Miami or Greg Schiano being run out of Tampa Bay, there has been a Jim Harbaugh or Pete Carroll coaching in the Super Bowl or Chip Kelly mystifying the NFC East with the same fast-paced playbook that he was tweaking at the University of New Hampshire less than a decade ago.
So who among the current college coaching crop is the most coveted by the front offices of the NFL? We asked the pros, and these are the five names they mentioned most.
1. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M Aggies
Sumlin, whose name kept coming up in the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings rumor mills, is looked upon favorably for many reasons. Among them are his reputation for organization, personnel management (see: his handling of Johnny Football) and ease when dealing with the media and supporters, even during tough times (see: his handling of the Johnny Football fiasco).
But it's Kelly's success in Philadelphia that has cracked the door open to thinking about Sumlin as a viable pro candidate.