Will either Harbaugh or Luck jump to the NFL? Both? Neither?
To quote Will Ferrell's Mugatu character from Zoolander, "That Jim Harbaugh is SO hot right now."
Amid all the football coaching movement—firings, promotions, etc.—there's really only one major coach who is coveted, instead of being fired.
On the heels of an Orange Bowl thumping of Virginia Tech on Monday night, Jim Harbaugh of Stanford is generally thought to be on his way out to bigger and better things. He is wanted by a laundry list of schools and NFL teams looking to fill a vacancy, and the thought is that he will take one of his suitors up on their sure-to-be lucrative offer to leave Stanford. There's been speculation that he will jump to the NFL with his stud quarterback Andrew Luck and try to plan a reunion with their chosen team, but that is a long shot.
I have a cautionary tale for Mr. Jim Harbaugh, that even though he's walking on clouds in the NCAA right now, history shows that a move to the NFL might be a rude awakening for a career college coach.
The most popular college coach who failed in the NFL is Pete Carroll. Now back in the playoffs in his first year with the Seattle Seahawks, Carroll seems light years away from his past failures in the NFL with the Jets in 1994 and Patriots from 1997-1999. Before moving to college in 2000, Carroll tallied a mediocre 33-31 record with a 1-2 mark in the playoffs. Compare that to his record over nine years at USC, 83-19 with two National Championships, and it makes me wonder why he'd ever think about leaving college again.
Carroll's Seahawks won the NFC West this year, despite their 7-9 record in the worst division in the NFL. The jury is still out on his third go-round in the pros.
Once upon a time, Petrino was one of the most respected coaches in the college ranks. In four seasons at the University of Louisville, Petrino built a fantastic program, going 41-9 with a BCS victory in the 2006 Orange Bowl and a No. 5 ranking.
Petrino, of course, rode his success to lock down an NFL job the next season with the Atlanta Falcons. The precipitous decline from year-to-year was astounding, as Petrino's Falcons went 3-10 before he bailed on his own mess to return to college. Petrino all but ruined his coaching reputation with such a controversial flee, but he apparently could not quit the NFL quickly enough.
Petrino, not surprisingly, quickly returned to success in college with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Navigating the Southeastern Conference is always a headache for the conference's coaches, but Petrino's team has thrived, going 23-14 in his three years there. Excluding his 5-7 inaugural, Arkansas is 18-7 with Petrino.
Overall, Petrino's college record in college is an impressive 64-23.
Dennis Erickson has been around the headset for a looooooooong time. Next season will be Erickson's 30th year as a head coach, most of which has been in college. He has done pretty well at several different colleges, with a 171-89-1 record and two national titles with Miami in 1989 and 1991.
He has not fared so well in the NFL, however. In four years with the Seahawks, Erickson managed a subpar 31-33 after his five great years with the Canes. He went back to college in 1999 and went 31-17 in four competitive years at Oregon State.
Not satisfied and thinking he would somehow do better in the NFL if he tried again, Erickson accepted the 49ers job and led San Fran to a 9-23 record in his two years there.
Since returning to college, the 63-year-old has a 29-32 record in five seasons, which is nothing special. He has proven, though, that he is a surpassingly more successful coach in college than in the pros.
Jim Harbaugh is on top of the world right now.
He is allegedly the top candidate for some very prestigious jobs with the 49ers, Michigan Wolverines and others. Harbaugh should realize before it's too late that what he has going on at Stanford is too good to walk away from. His program is on the rise and there is no telling the heights to which he could take it if he stays. He could stay at Stanford, get a huge raise, be the hometown hero and continue his success, or he could take a new job in an unfamiliar place with no guarantee of success or happiness.
To me, that's not even a choice. Please Jim Harbaugh, stay at Stanford. And if you don't stay there, at least stay in college. I can't stand to see another great college coach ruined by the NFL.