The position of head coach of an NFL franchise is a fascinating one. As fans we really don’t see the impact that they have on their teams in action. They are typically on the sidelines, headphones on talking away, maybe looking at a clipboard on occasion, but we all understand that their impact is in working with players and their staff to set up a game plan for the week.
So when we discuss which college coaches would make good NFL coaches, it’s hard to extrapolate how a coach might translate, but there are some things we can look at.
Having said all this, every season when NFL owners clean house on their coaching staffs, the same names in college football come up as potential replacements. And one of those names is Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. Of all the candidates that I see brought up, Meyer is one that never makes any sense to me. Here’s why.
Twice during his college coaching tenure Meyer has had to take a leave of absence or temporary retirement citing adverse health and family concerns a result of the time he logged as a head coach. Now, I’ve never been a college or NFL head coach, but having followed both sports I feel pretty confident based on what I have read and heard from coaches that the level of stress for coaches in the NFL is exponentially higher than it is for even top college coaches, and the amount of time you must dedicate to being successful is much greater for professionals.
Both of these run counter to the type of situation Meyer is looking for. If he couldn’t handle living in central Florida, surrounded by coeds and coaching the Gators without it ruining his health and family life, would a career in Kansas City and those fans be better for him?
Also, he doesn’t know how to coach in the NFL. Ok, let me back up a little. Meyer doesn’t know how to coach offense in the NFL. The system that Meyer runs on offense in college cannot translate to the professional game, and so at that point he would have two choices. He could hire an offensive coordinator with a pro ready system in place and hand the offense over to him. But when you hire Meyer you do so at least in part because he’s known as such an offensive mastermind. So this makes little sense. Your other choice is to try and shoehorn as much of Meyer’s system into a traditional offense, but what we are seeing right now is that is only marginally successful and risky for your quarterback. Again, you are taking what he’s best at and minimizing it.
Finally, I think it’s about fit. I heard someone say once that the difference between a great college head coach and a great NFL head coach is a great college coach excels when players pick the coach, and NFL coaches excel when the coach picks the player. And that’s exactly what it is. In college, you make a sales pitch to high school and JUCO athletes and then wait to see if they pick your program. In the NFL coaches select rookies and sign free agents and those players have almost no say in where they land.
Meyer has always struck me as a guy who’s better when players pick him. His recruiting classes were always good, often getting players to commit when the team already had depth at that position, so it’s clear his sales pitch is solid. But recruiting is throwing out a wide net and letting the fish come to you. When you have a limited budget and options, I’m not sure Meyer is the guy I want combing NFL free agents for a great cornerback.
Urban Meyer is a great college coach. One of the best in the country without a doubt. And his spread offense can move the football with precision and explosion. His ability to recruit great players is tremendous. But I don’t think his lifestyle, his scheme and his philosophy would be a good fit in the NFL at all. So, NFL teams when you are looking for the guy that’s going to lead your team next year, avoid Columbus, Ohio.
Let’s hear it Buckeye fans. Tell me how great Meyer would be in the NFL. Follow me on Twitter @nfldraftboard