Are College Football Coaches Fleeing to the NFL?


If you haven’t noticed, there have been many high-profile instances of college coaches jumping to the NFL lately, but it’s not necessarily an exodus. To understand the situation better, let’s look at some of the factors involved:

Pull factors of the NFL:

  • Higher salaries and better contracts: Top NFL jobs offer significantly more money and often longer, guaranteed contracts compared to college football. In 2023, the highest-paid college coach made $9.5 million, while the lowest-paid NFL coach made $4 million.
  • Challenge and prestige: The NFL is the pinnacle of professional football, and coaching there carries a certain prestige and challenge that can be alluring.
  • Shorter season and less responsibility: The NFL season is shorter than college football, and coaches typically have less off-field responsibility, like dealing with academics and recruiting.

Push factors from college football:

  • Demanding workload: College coaches face a constant grind of recruiting, fundraising, and managing a team, with 24/7 pressure to win.
  • Transfer portal volatility: The NCAA transfer portal allows players to easily switch schools, making roster management more challenging. The changes have been huge in recent years and the impact has been significant on coaches.
  • Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) complexities: Navigating the new NIL landscape adds another layer of complexity to recruiting and roster management.
  • Fan and media scrutiny: College coaches are under intense scrutiny from fans, media, and boosters, which can be stressful.

However, it’s important to consider:

  • The numbers: While some high-profile coaches have left, it’s not a mass exodus. The vast majority of college coaches remain in college football.
  • Not all NFL jobs are created equal: Many NFL assistant coach jobs pay less and offer less security than top college jobs.
  • Success isn’t guaranteed: The NFL is a tough league, and not all college coaches who jump ship find success there.

Overall, while there are certainly factors attracting some college coaches to the NFL, it’s not a one-way street. The college game still offers unique challenges, rewards, and a different lifestyle that appeal to many coaches.


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