Lincoln Riley and Two Other College Coaches Ready for the NFL

Throughout the years, many NFL coaches have come from the college ranks. Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson, and Tom Coughlin all coached in college before winning Super Bowls.

More recently, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury left college to coach in the NFL.

Here are three college coaches who are ready to coach in the NFL:

Lincoln Riley – Oklahoma Sooners

The 35-year-old Riley is a rising star. In each of his first two years at Oklahoma, he won the Big 12 Conference Championship and made the College Football Playoffs.

Professional teams drafted Riley’s last two quarterbacks with the first overall pick. NFL coaches have visited Riley to learn about his offensive schemes. Many people think Riley is the next Sean McVay, the offensive mastermind of the Los Angeles Rams. 

Riley’s offensive schemes and quarterback development make him attractive to the NFL. In addition, teams have praised Riley for his gameday preparation and teaching. These skills make him attractive to NFL teams looking for a new coach. 

However, Riley’s transition may not be perfect. Riley has never coached in the NFL. As a result, he may not be able to manage professional players. He also had two talented quarterbacks at Oklahoma. How well will his offense run without a future number one draft pick? In addition, Riley’s defenses have given up a lot of points to opponents.   

While he isn’t perfect, Riley has many of the skills great NFL coaches need.    

Jim Harbaugh – University of Michigan

From 2011 to 2014, Harbaugh coached the 49ers. As head coach, his teams played in three straight NFC conference championships and went to Super Bowl XLVII.

After being fired in 2014, the University of Michigan hired him as their head coach. Harbaugh seemed like a natural fit since he played quarterback at Michigan in college. 

However, Harbaugh hasn’t had the expected results. Although he has led Michigan to a 38-14 record during the last four years. His teams have never beaten Ohio State or made the College Football Playoffs. In addition, Harbaugh hasn’t spent more than four years at his last three head coaching stops. If he has a bad 2019 season, will he go back to the NFL? 

Harbaugh had success in the NFL as a head coach. He knows how to run a team and get the best out of quarterbacks. Harbaugh wouldn’t struggle with coaching, but with relationships. His intense style causes problems with players and front offices.

While he may not be a long-term solution, NFL teams will line up to hire Harbaugh. 

Matt Rhule – Baylor University

Rhule is already drawing interest from NFL teams. Over the last two years, Rhule interviewed with the New York Jets and the Indianapolis Colts.

After spending a year as an assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants, Temple hired Ruhle as their head football coach. At Temple, Rhule lead his team to back-to-back ten-win seasons.

After four years at Temple, Baylor hired Rhule to replace Art Briles. Rhule cleaned up the mess Briles left behind and rebuilt the team. In his second season, his team won six more games than the year before.  

Rhule has impressed the NFL with his ability to manage a football team. However, questions come from his experience. He only coached in the NFL for one year. He has never run a high-level college program. Rhule has the tools to be a successful coach, but will they work in the NFL? 

While he may not have a lot of experience, NFL teams think Rhule has the right skills to be a successful head coach.