10 Current College Football Coaches Who Were Great Players

Randy ChambersAnalyst IMay 30, 2013

10 Current College Football Coaches Who Were Great Players

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    Sometimes it is the worst players that make the best coaches. Some guys have the high intelligence and understand the game well, but just didn't have the athleticism and ability to make plays consistently. Those guys usually become the coaches while the great players go on to play professionally and make the big bucks.

    But what about the college football coaches who happened to have a solid playing career?

    The list isn't a long one, but there are a handful of active coaches who were productive players. Some of these coaches broke school records, won numerous individual awards and one of them has even walked away with a Heisman Trophy.

    Let's check out 10 current college football head coaches who were able to hold their own on the gridiron.

Frank Solich, Nebraska

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    Before Frank Solich joined the Nebraska coaching staff and won 75 percent of his games, he was a star fullback for the Cornhuskers from 1963 to 1965.

    He earned All-Big Eight honors and was a co-captain his junior year. His single-game school record when he rushed for 204 yards against Air Force stands to this day for the fullback position.

    Solich finished his career with 1,010 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns. He played a big role in those teams that racked up a 29-4 record in three years.

    He also became the first Nebraska player to land on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Solich was later inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1992.

P.J. Fleck, Northern Illinois

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    It seems like yesterday P.J. Fleck was playing for Northern Illinois. That may be because that is the case, as the current Western Michigan coach was hauling in passes for the Huskies from 1999-2003. 

    Fleck is one of the more popular Northern Illinois players who just went out there and did his job at a high level. He caught at least 20 passes in three of his five seasons and finished with 77 receptions for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns his senior season. The reception total is good for second in school history.

    Fleck had an outside shot of making an NFL roster when he was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2004, but he decided to leave for a coaching career. We will soon find out how well he stacks up in his new field.

Steve Sarkisian, BYU

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    Steve Sarkisian is another young guy who seems like it was just a few years ago he was playing football. He spent the 1995 and 1996 seasons playing quarterback for BYU after transferring from El Camino Junior College.

    Sarkisian is most known for his performance in the 1996 season, when he completed 68.8 percent of his passes and threw for 4,027 yards and 33 touchdowns. His incredible play led BYU to a 14-1 record and a Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State. The 14 victories were an NCAA record, which was later tied by Ohio State in 2002.

    The current Washington coach then spent three seasons playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League, but that's about as far as his playing days ever took him.

Dan Enos, Michigan State

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    Dan Enos wasn't the flashiest quarterback Michigan State has ever had, but he managed to get the job done and put victories on the board.

    Spending the 1989 and 1990 seasons as a starter for the Spartans, Enos compiled a 16-7-1 record, including victories in the Aloha Bowl and Sun Bowl.

    Enos did throw 25 career interceptions to his 13 touchdowns, but he was an effective runner (14 rushing touchdowns) and his 62.1 percent completion percentage is third best in school history.

    Enos simply just found ways to win games for Michigan State.

June Jones, Portland State

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    Before June Jones became an underrated head coach and an offensive juggernaut, he played quarterback for three different schools. Jones played for Oregon and Hawaii in the early 70s before transferring to Portland State and really making his mark.

    Jones spent the 1975 and 1976 seasons as the Vikings quarterback and passed for a combined 5,798 yards and 50 touchdowns. He was the most successful quarterback in school history and took advantage of the "Run and Shoot" style of offense.

    Jones later went on to play in the USFL before spending four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He threw three touchdowns and seven interceptions in his brief NFL career.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

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    Mike Gundy has spent most of his entire football career at Oklahoma State. Before he became a head coach, he played quarterback from 1986 to 1989 for the Cowboys.

    He was a four-year starter and helped put together a combined 20-4 record in his sophomore and junior seasons. It took Gundy 138 pass attempts before he threw his first interception of his career which was an NCAA record until 2008.

    The Oklahoma State and Big Eight record book had been rewritten when Gundy retired as he was the conference's all-time leading passer and leader in total offense. The current Oklahoma State coach tossed 54 touchdowns and threw for 7,997 in his career.

Chris Petersen, University of California, Davis

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    This may come as a surprise to some, but Chris Petersen was actually a solid football player back in the day. After spending a couple of seasons at Sacramento City College, he transferred to University of California, Davis where he really shined.

    Petersen was named Northern California Athletic Conference Player of the Year in his senior season and was considered the best Division II quarterback in 1986. He also received second-team Kodak Division II All-America honors his senior season.

    To this day Petersen holds the Division II career completion percentage at 69.6 percent.

    Petersen was later inducted into the UC Davis Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

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    The same intensity that Pat Fitzgerald uses to motivate his players and help turn this Northwestern program around, was the same way the former linebacker played the game.

    Fitzgerald played for the Wildcats from 1993 to 1996.

    He was absolutely dominant his last two seasons, twice winning the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year twice.

    Fitzgerald was also a two-time Consensus All-American and helped lead the Wildcats to a Rose Bowl appearance in 1995.

    He spent a little time with the Dallas Cowboys in 1997 before becoming a coach the following year.

Brady Hoke, Ball State

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    Brady Hoke played linebacker for four seasons at Ball State from 1977 to 1980. During those four years the Cardinals had some of its best success, including a 9-2 record in 1977 and a 10-1 record in 1978 which led to a MAC Championship.

    Besides his leadership and being the anchor of the defense, Hoke was also consistently productive his last three years on the field. He finished with at least 95 tackles dating back to his sophomore season and received second-team All-MAC honors his senior season.

    Hoke later went on to land his first head coaching job at his Alma Matter.

Steve Spurrier, Florida

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    Steve Spurrier was by far the best college football player who is a current head coach. The guy won the Heisman Trophy in 1966 as a quarterback. Do we really need to say anymore?

    Spurrier was also named SEC Player of the Year that season, named a Consensus All-American and was MVP of the Sugar Bowl. One of the top quarterbacks college football has ever seen back in the day, Spurrier finished his career at Florida with 4,848 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and a 56.6 completion percentage. 

    Spurrier was later selected in the first round of the 1967 NFL draft and went on to have a 10-year career in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He threw for 6,878 yards and 40 touchdowns in the NFL.