Is NFL’s Surge of Hiring College Coaches as Coordinators Anomaly or New Norm?


The National Football League (NFL) has recently witnessed an uptick in the hiring of college coaches to fill coordinator positions. This trend has sparked a debate on whether this is a temporary anomaly or the herald of a new norm within the league.

Traditionally, NFL teams have preferred to hire coordinators with previous experience within the professional ranks. However, the landscape may be shifting as innovative play designs and novel schemes from college games increasingly influence NFL playbooks. The success of college-style offenses—characterized by up-tempo plays, spread formations, and run-pass options (RPOs)—has made college coaches more attractive candidates for NFL teams seeking a competitive edge.

One reason behind this surge could be the success of coaches like Kliff Kingsbury, who transitioned from being a head coach at Texas Tech University to the Arizona Cardinals. While his records in college were mixed, his offensive mentality has been well-received in the professional setting, thus highlighting that college concepts can thrive in the NFL.

The influx of young quarterbacks transitioning to the pros is another factor fueling this trend. These quarterbacks come with a collegiate style of play, which necessitates coordinators who understand their strengths and can tailor NFL offenses to suit them. Consequently, bringing in college coaches who have directly worked with such players can facilitate smoother transitions and quicker success on the field.

The rise in hiring non-traditional candidates also comes at a time when inclusivity and diversity in coaching have become focal points for change within the league. Teams are now exploring unconventional routes to identify talented individuals who can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to their strategies.

Critics, however, question whether this practice is sustainable. The higher level of competition and greater parity between teams in the NFL as compared to college football means that success isn’t guaranteed even with innovative schemes. Additionally, coaching professionals require not just technical knowledge but also adeptness in player management and navigating more complex professional dynamics.

In conclusion, it remains to be seen if this increasing practice becomes part of the fabric of the NFL or if it’s merely a temporary phase. Nevertheless, this trend is reshaping hiring practices as we know it and may signify an evolutionary step in professional football tactics—driven by strategic innovation and the continuous search for an upper hand on game day.


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