Marvin Lewis and 10 NFL Coaches Who Could Jump To the College Ranks

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2011

Marvin Lewis and 10 NFL Coaches Who Could Jump To the College Ranks

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos celebrates a touchdown by Knowshon Moreno with wide receiver Brandon Lloyd #84 against the St. Louis Rams at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 28, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Ra
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    With the rumors that Marvin Lewis will not be returning to the Cincinnati Bengals, the hype machine is firing on all cylinders as to his next destination. 

    One of the potential landing sports for the talented coach is the University of Pittsburgh, potentially making Lewis the latest coach in a long line to go from coaching in the NFL to the college ranks. 

    Who are the likeliest candidates to make this surprising jump in 2010? We've got the list of 10 head and assistant coaches most likely to make the jump to college football. These are the players we feel would be the best fit in the unique environment of college football. And no, Brad Childress is nowhere on this list. 

10. Tom Cable

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    SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 05:  Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable looks on from the sideline against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 28-13.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Why would the gruff, grumpy Cable, who many still see as a poor coach, be a candidate to be a college coach? For those who may have forgotten, Cable's head coaching experience prior to his time in Oakland was solely in college football. 

    He was the head coach at the University of Idaho from 2000-2003, and was the offensive coordinator at UCLA after that. 

    Cable might not be near the top of any NFL team's wish list. But the Raiders soon-to-be-former head coach is just right to be a coach at a mid-major school in the college ranks. 

9. Rob Ryan

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Cleveland Browns defensive coodinator Rob Ryan watches warmups during a game agaisnt the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 21, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    If Ryan doesn't get an NFL head coaching gig, the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator could jump to the college ranks. Ryan has no head coaching experience, but that doesn't change the fact that his personality is best suited to the college ranks. 

    Much like his brother, Rex, Rob is incredibly emotional and passionate. While that's not always a good thing at the NFL level, it can make a coach into a legend in the college ranks. 

    Ryan is one of the better defensive coordinators in the NFL, and he feels like he's ready for a head coaching gig. If it doesn't come in the NFL, he'll go to the college ranks. 

8. Josh McDaniels

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 14:  Head coach Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos celebrates a touchdown on the sidelines against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Denver Bron
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Don't think McDaniels is college coach material? Neither was Lane Kiffin. But that didn't stop Tennessee from hiring him after the Raiders kicked him out. And it didn't stop USC from hiring him from Tennessee. 

    McDaniel is still young, and still has the same brain that made the Broncos hire him. He may not be NFL head coaching material right now, but college? Why not?

7. Mike Singletary

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    SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 12: Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on December 12, 2010 in San Francisco, California.(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Singletary might not be the most tactically savvy coach in NFL history (or 49ers history, for that matter), but the Hall of Fame linebacker could be a great college coach. He's passionate, intelligent, and can surround himself with talent to make up for his tactical deficiencies. 

    I'm not saying Singletary will be a successful college coach, but someone is sure to give him a shot. 

6. Jack Del Rio

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    HOUSTON - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Jack Del Rio of the  Jacksonville Jaguars looks on from the sidelines during first half action against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio seems to be on the hot seat year in and year out. His name has appeared in several college coaching searches over the years, most notably USC in 2010. 

    Del Rio is a tough coach, and his teams' style of play suits it perfectly. He's been a solid, but unspectacular NFL coach, but in the right college environment, Del Rio and his suit could be an excellent coach. 

5. Ron Rivera

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 13:  (L-R) Inside linebackers coach, Ron Rivera and Stephen Cooper #54 of the San Diego Chargers talk during a stop in play against the Indianapolis Colts during their AFC Divisional Playoff game at the RCA Dome on January 13, 2008
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    For those who don't know Ron Rivera, he has been one of the most successful defensive coordinators in the NFL in recent years. 

    He's currently with the San Diego Chargers, but that hasn't stopped Rivera from being many teams' Rooney Rule interview (the Rooney Rule mandates that teams must interview minority candidates prior to hiring a coach). 

    But maybe Rivera's tired of being a token interview in the NFL. Maybe he's so tired of it, he's willing to take a head coaching job in college football, just to get away. 

    Then, those NFL teams might see what he can do as head coach. 

4. Tony Sparano

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 19: Coach Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Bills defeated the Dolphins 17-14.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Sparano has made his head coaching career out of doing more with less than almost any coach in the NFL. His teams have never been terribly talented, and the Dolphins were 1-15 before his arrival. Since he's gotten there, Miami has won 25 games, and lost 19. He's creative, and capable of maximizing a team's potential. 

    If the Dolphins fire him after another 7-9 season in 2010, don't be surprised to see Sparano head to the college ranks, where his creativity will be more appreciated. 

3. John Fox

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    PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  Head coach John Fox of the Carolina Panthers watches his team warm up prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Fox has built a reputation as a player's coach during his tenure with the Carolina Panthers. He's taken the team to the Super Bowl, and isa somewhat functional NFL coach. 

    But his temperament and demeanor seem better suited to the college level, as does his style of play. Fox loves to play it slow and close to the vest, preferring to run the ball. He'd be perfect for a school in the MAC or another mid-major conference. 

2. Marvin Lewis

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 26:  Head coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals yells to his team during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Get
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Lewis is a good coach trapped under one of the worst owners in the entire NFL. Mike Brown thinks he knows football, but, if the product on the field is any indication, he doesn't.

    So, now that his contract is up, don't be surprised if Lewis is named the next coach at Pitt. He's a good coach, who players seem to love playing for, and if he gets a recruiter under his belt, he could become a great college coach. 

1. Jeff Fisher

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 02: Jeff Fisher the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans watches play during NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Fisher has been the head coach of the Tennessee Titans for the last 16 season, but the fact is, he may have missed his calling as a college coach. 

    He's not a disciplinarian, and he's all about building the sense of team. He's got the expertise to run a different system based on the personnel he has available. 

    Fisher is a calming force, and is personable enough to deal with boosters and alumni clamoring for wins and titles, while charming enough to woo blue chip recruits. 

    In short, Fisher is the best college coach in the NFL.