Coaching path from college to pros is strewn with casualties

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The fascination in this part of the world with Urban Meyer and the thought that he might become the next Dallas Cowboys head football coach intrigues me terribly.

And not for reasons you might expect.

Jason Garrett is likely coaching his final season for the Cowboys, who have underperformed to the disappointment of the team’s fans. Let me stipulate that I am not one of those fans.

So, what about Meyer? He retired as head coach at Ohio State. Prior to that he coached the University of Florida to greatness. Prior to that he led the University of Utah to the status of being a very good football team. He won three national collegiate championships.

Does that college success translate automatically to the professional ranks? Hmm. Let’s ponder that.

Chip Kelly coached the University of Oregon and for a brief spell led the team to elite status among college football programs. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles; he got fired. Then he became head coach of the San Francisco 49ers; he got fired again. He’s now back as a college coach at UCLA.

Bud Wilkinson led the University of Oklahoma to 47 straight wins in the early 1950s. He coached the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL, where his success was, shall we say, less than sterling.

Dennis Erickson had a stellar college coaching career. His pro coaching career was decidedly less than stellar.

Steve Spurrier, too, had great success as a college coach. Not so much in the pros.

Nick Saban? Same thing.

To be sure, there are reverse examples. The Cowboys hired two successful college coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, who managed to win Super Bowls coaching the Cowboys. The owner, Jerry Jones, fired ’em both; Johnson mouthed off to the owner and I can’t remember what got Switzer into trouble.

I would encourage my friends who are Cowboys’ fanatics to take great care in wishing Urban Meyer can be talked into donning the headphones yet again, this time for the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s one thing to throw your weight around with student-athletes. It’s quite another matter when the players you are coaching are multimillionaires who make more money each year than the guy who’s telling ’em to run wind sprints.

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