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A look at how other college coaches fared once they joined the NFL

With all eyes on Eagles' Chip Kelly, here is how some of his college-coaching predecessors fared.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

NOT EVERY NFL coach hired from the college ranks fails, it just feels that way. For every Bill Walsh, there are three Steve Spurriers.

Chip Kelly might or might not match Jimmy Johnson's two Super Bowls, but he's also no Bobby Petrino. With the first three-quarters of Kelly's rookie year in the books, here is a look at some other college-to-NFL head coaches:


Bill Walsh, 49ers, 1979: The father of the West Coast offense, Walsh was hired from Stanford and built a juggernaut in San Fran. Walsh won three Super Bowls and laid the groundwork for two others. His offensive innovation is similar to what the Eagles hope for from Chip Kelly, though five Super Bowls is a tad unreasonable.

Jimmy Johnson, Cowboys, 1989: Made the University of Miami into a powerhouse before the Cowboys came calling. Johnson started 1-15, but won the Super Bowl following the 1992 and 1993 seasons before walking away.

Dick Vermeil, Eagles, 1976: The Birds hired the passionate Vermeil out of UCLA and were in the Super Bowl following the 1980 season.

Honorable mentions: Sam Wyche (Indiana/Bengals, 1984), Dennis Green (Stanford/Vikings, 1992), Barry Switzer (Oklahoma/retired/Dallas, 1994), Tom Coughlin (Boston College/Jacksonville, 1995), Steve Mariucci (Cal/49ers, 1997), Pete Carroll (USC/Seahawks, 2010), Jim Harbaugh (Stanford/49ers, 2011).


Lane Kiffin, Raiders, 2007: Kiffin was USC's offensive coordinator, who had never been a head coach at any level when Al Davis hired him. He went 5-15 in a tenure that ended with Davis calling Kiffin a disgrace and a liar and Kiffin dismissing Davis as an embarrassment.

Bobby Petrino, Falcons, 2007: He came from Louisville, where his dynamic offense was supposed to take Michael Vick to the next level among NFL quarterbacks. Instead, Vick was suspended and later jailed for his involvement in a dogfighting ring and Petrino was running back to college after only 13 games. He informed his team by leaving notes in their lockers. Real nice.

Steve Spurrier, Redskins, 2002: Spurrier's arrogance as the Florida coach drove his SEC opponents nuts, but not as much as his winning. He once observed that Peyton Manning returned for his senior season at Tennessee in order to become the three-time MVP of the second-tiered Citrus Bowl. Ouch. He spent two undistinguished seasons in Washington (12-20) before heading back to the SEC as the head coach at South Carolina.

Dishonorable mentions: Lou Holtz (North Carolina State/Jets, 1976), Dick McPherson (Syracuse/New England, 1991), Darryl Rogers (Arizona State/Lions, 1985), Mike Riley (Oregon State/Chargers, 1999), Nick Saban (LSU/Miami, 2005).

Quick quiz

Question: How many games did John McKay win with the 1976 Buccaneers?

A. Zero

B. Three

C. Six

Answer: a. Zero. In fact, McKay started 0-26.

True or false: When Lou Holtz was with the Jets in 1976, Joe Namath was one of his QBs.

Answer: True. Namath went 1-7. Holtz went 3-10 and resigned with one game left in the season.

Question: Who was the first player drafted by Bill Walsh when he arrived in San Francisco in 1982?

A. Joe Montana

B. Dwight Clark

C. James Owens

Answer: C. Owens, who played only two seasons for the 49ers. Montana was a third-round pick. Clark was selected in the 10th round.

Question: Who was the opposing coach for Jimmy Johnson's only win for Dallas in 1989?

A. Eagles' Buddy Ryan

B. Washington's Joe Gibbs

C. Giants' Bill Parcells

Answer: B. Gibbs. The midseason loss helped keep Washington (10-6) out of the playoffs.

Question: Whom did Nick Saban succeed when he was named the Dolphins coach in 2005?

A. Jimmy Johnson

B. Cam Cameron

C. Dave Wannstedt

Answer: C. Wannstedt, who resigned midway through 2004, as the Dolphins were 1-8.

Question: I was hired twice out of college, once in 1995 by Seattle and again in 2003 by San Francisco.

A. Dennis Erickson

B. Mike Holmgren

C. Steve Mariucci

Answer: A. Erickson, whose best record in six NFL seasons was 8-8.

Question: How many quarterbacks started for Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano in his first season in 2012?

A. One. B. Two. C. Four.

Answer: A. One: Josh Freeman, with whom he had such a falling out that Freeman was cut early this season.

Keeping score

1-2 correct: Go back to JUCO.

3-4 correct: You can coach in a BCS conference.

5-6 correct: You're up next for an NFL job.

7 correct: You're a regular Hank Stram.

Current guys

A look at how the current head coaches who came directly from college fared in their first season:

Pete Carroll, Seahawks

First season, 2010: 7-9 6-6 through 12

Quick hit: Carroll had NFL experience with the Patriots before taking the Seattle job. Now in his fourth season, he has the Seahawks positioned as the favorites in the NFC.

Jim Harbaugh, 49ers

First season, 2011: 13-3 10-2 through 12

Quick hit: Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback, took over for Mike Singletary and had the 49ers in the conference championship game his first season. For an encore, he took them to the Super Bowl.

Greg Schiano, Buccaneers

First season, 2012: 7-9 6-6 through 12

Quick hit: The Bucs were in the playoff hunt in Schiano's first season, but a five-game losing streak sabotaged those hopes. This year has been much more rocky with the benching and eventual waiving of quarterback Josh Freeman and a MRSA outbreak that affected three players.

Doug Marrone, Bills

First season, 2013: 4-8 through 12

Quick hit: Injuries have ravaged the Bills this year, and still Marrone has managed to win some games. First-round quarterback EJ Manuel has shown potential.

Chip Kelly, Eagles

First season, 2013: 7-5 through 12

Quick hit: A four-game winning streak and the sudden emergence of Nick Foles have the Eagles in the hunt for the division title. Dick Vermeil, the last coach the Eagles plucked from the college ranks, went 4-10 in his first season.