The NFL is proving that making the move from the college football coaching game to the pros may not be as difficult as once perceived. This year’s Super Bowl will see Pete Carroll successfully make the move from USC to the Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks, although he also had 16 years of NFL experience behind him. To get there he had to get by former Pac 12 coaching rival Jim Harbaugh (Stanford). Out east it was another Pac 12 coach, Chip Kelly from Oregon, proving his doubters wrong by leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a division championship and home playoff game. It seems a similar trend has been developing one more level down the ranks.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and Baylor head coach Art Briles help prove a point made in a column on Al.com suggesting some of the best coaches in the game are coming from the high school football fields instead of off the college sidelines. It probably goes without much saying that a successful coach at the high school level is going to have some inroads with college programs. After all, successful high school coaches likely have regular visits from college programs checking out their players in the recruiting process. If a high school coach is helping to develop this talent, why would they not be considered for opportunities to join a coaching staff at a college program?
Every coach follows a different path of course. With so many high schools around the country and football teams to coach, not every highly successful coach is going to get a chance to coach in college, and even then it will take some time for them to have a chance to become a successful college coach. It is not as though Malzahn or Briles walked off a high school field and immediately transformed Auburn or Baylor in to a power house. Briles spent three years as a running backs coach at Texas Tech before being named the head coach at Houston. It took Malzahn six years under various roles at Arkansas, Tulsa and Auburn before getting a chance to succeed at Arkansas State and then Auburn.
The point being made is that as colleges start looking at a wider range of potential coaching candidates, it is not a surprise that those who succeed under the Friday night lights are having an impact on Saturdays as well.