Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 1/26/12

Over the weekend, Chip Kelly was supposedly a last-minute change of heart away from leaving Oregon for the Tampa bay Buccaneers. Jim Tressel received consideration for the Indianapolis Colts' opening that ultimately went to Chuck Pagano. Les Miles' name has been bandied about as a potential pro coach. Jim Harbaugh made his bones turning Stanford around, and he nearly took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in his first year there.

We tend to view coaches as either "college guys" or "NFL guys" and never the two should meet. Is that delineation now dead?

Aaron Torres: Hmm, it's a good question, but I don't know that there was ever a delineation in my eyes. Over the course of my lifetime, I've seen guys like Steve Mariucci, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Pete Carroll and Steve Spurrier go from college to the pros. Some, like Maruicci have had a modicum of success. A few others, not so much.

I think the biggest thing is that college coaches are now smarter about their opportunities.

The simple truth is that most are now smart enough to weigh the "challenge" of competing at the highest level, with the inherent advantages of staying where they are. With the way college coaching salaries have sky-rocketed, the money is no longer significantly better (if better at all), and a lot of guys are saying to themselves, "I can stay here and be a demigod for the next decade" or go somewhere else with a much less certain future. As uncertain as college coaching positions are, NFL gigs are even worse.

Look at the guys that were mentioned above: Les Miles never has to leave Louisiana for a recruit and can win 10 games a year, Chip Kelly has no more than 2-3 legitimately losable games on his schedule every year, and even guys like Saban and Petrino have to be looking around and thinking to themselves "You know what? I've got it pretty good here." Even someone like Pete Carroll turned down countless NFL jobs, until he got a perfect situation in Seattle (don't believe for a second he left USC because of looming NCAA sanctions. He left because Seattle gave him big-time player personnel input).

Granted, there are certain guys like Harbaugh, who are just cut from a certain cloth and seem destined to end up in the NATIONAL...FOOTBALL...LEAGUE!

But everyone else? Thanks to the money at the college level, they have no reason to leave.

Michael Felder: This is always a good question and I think there are too many factors to just casually dismiss candidates as either or. Both jobs are just flat out hard if you ask me. You've got to have the right people around you to succeed, the right setting from a professional standpoint and some positive things happen in addition to just being a good coach. I can't help but think Bobby Petrino handles Atlanta a little better if he doesn't get the entire Vick firestorm accompanying his transition. Mike Sherman was not awful at either of his jobs, just wasn't great at either of them. Pete Carroll was stellar at college but just "okay" in the NFL. Lane Kiffin with crazy Al Davis was doomed, not because Lane can't coach (which everyone swore was the problem) but because that situation was toxic.

Basically when you're hired to be fired the smallest things can drastically alter your career path. Especially in a league where college guys getting promotions to NFL jobs and NFL lifers getting the same type step up jobs are being sent packing at an alarming rate.

Allen Kenney: Something else to consider. It used to be that the NFL represented the pinnacle of the coaching profession. Pro coaches were seen as the best of the best, and winning in the NFL signified the highest level of achievement.

Nowadays, I don't think that's necessarily the case. We've seen pro coaches go to the college level and struggle in the same way that coaches transitioning from college to the pros have. Also, as the true constant in a college program from year to year, it strikes me that college coaches get more credit for a program's success than pro coaches. The Packers are Aaron Rodgers; Alabama is Nick Saban.

Finally, the media exposure doesn't really differ that much anymore between college and the NFL.

Ultimately, I think some of the prestige of coaching in the NFL has worn off, which is affecting our judgments about coaches.

Aaron Torres: To your point Allen, I think part of the college coaches getting more credit than pro coaches is just the environment they work in. Simply put, Nick Saban is the biggest celebrity in Tuscaloosa, in the same way that Chip Kelly is the biggest celebrity in Eugene and Brady Hoke in Ann Arbor. But Tom Coughlin in New York? Is he in the Top 500?

At the same time, I disagree with your point in reference to the Rodgers vs. Saban argument. The truth is that the Packers "are" Aaron Rodgers for lack of a better term, in a lot of the same ways that the Saints "are" Drew Brees and the Steelers "are" Ben Roethlisberger. I mean, how can you really argue otherwise? Big Ben has won two Super Bowls with two different coaches, Peyton Manning has gone to two with two different coaches too. Then again, that's the inherent advantage to working with professionals; they are in fact professionals. To put it a different way, if you had to bet your life tomorrow on the Packers, and had to take one variable out of the equation, Mike McCarthy or Aaron Rodgers, who would you pick? I'd take McCarthy out and keep Rodgers, and it wouldn't even be a decision.

Alabama? Well, that program hadn't won a National Championship in nearly two decades before Saban got there, and now they've won two in five years. They've done it with two different starting quarterbacks and almost two entirely different defenses. As a matter of fact, other than Mark Barron, Trent Richardson and maybe Marquis Maze, I can't think of one player who had a significant impact on both titles. Guys like Courtney Upshaw and Dre Kirkpatrick were roles players. But they didn't have the same impact the way that say, the same New England Patriots had impact on 2-3 Super Bowl runs. And really, that's why Nick Saban gets much more credit when his team wins a championship than when Mike McCarthy does. Because when they win, he's just about the only common denominator from week-to-week, year-to-year

I'm getting tangential, but the point is, I think there's more fact than fiction in the idea that the "coach" makes the program in college much more so than the NFL. There are of course always exceptions: This year when Jim Harbaugh took over the 49ers and took on his personality, or when Larry Coker took over Butch Davis' team and won a title.

Then again, the exception proves the rule, doesn't it.

And oh by the way, now seems like an appropriate time to mention that just as this discussion began, Greg Schiano was named head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ironic?

Michael Felder: I honestly don't see Schiano as a huge risk with respect to what other coaches have done. He's worked in an NFL style system from a personnel and gameplan standpoint. He's not going to try and reinvent the wheel like Chip Kelly with respect to NFL football. I don't really think he's any worse than a lot of candidates out there; not really better but not much worse. Better than Chip Kelly to me.

Aaron Torres: Well, I think it's safe to say that this conversation pretty much officially ended right where Allen started it: The delineation between college coaches and pro coaches is officially dead.

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