Leslie Frazier was in Denver Wednesday meeting with Broncos officials about their head coach vacancy. He is scheduled to do the same in Detroit Friday and possibly St. Louis before the end of the weekend. The Vikings went through a similar situation with Mike Tomlin two years ago before he signed on as the new coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but this time there is a significant difference.
When Tomlin was making the rounds, he was in competition for head-coaching positions not only with former NFL head coaches and other assistant coaches from the more successful NFL teams, but also with the hot college coaching prospects. As Frazier makes his rounds, it is suspiciously sparse in college coaching prospects lining up for NFL head-coaching positions.
It would seem the league is wary of going after top college prospects after two franchises – Miami and Atlanta – have been burned over the last two years by college coaches. Nick Saban was supposed to be the answer in Miami, but he bailed out on the Dolphins to take the head coaching job at Alabama after just one season. Perhaps even more disloyal was Bobby Petrino, who didn't even wait until the conclusion of his first season with the Falcons to accept a head-coaching job at Arkansas. It didn't help either of their causes to see that they left their teams in relative shambles only to have first-year coaches with NFL experience take over and lead both teams to the playoffs this year.
The NFL doesn't like getting burned by college coaches and the backlash has been pretty obvious. Last year when coaching vacancies were filled, all were filled by coaches coming from the NFL. With the handful of teams that have fired head coaches and are currently conducting job searches, the only college names that have surfaced is Bob Stoops and Boston College's Jeff Jagodzinski, who was fired by the university for merely interviewing with the Jets for their head-coaching position.
Whether this is a momentary trend or something that will continue, it would seem that, for now anyway, Saban and Petrino have muddied the waters for all college coaches looking to make the jump to the NFL. The end result could be that NFL teams look to within their own ranks to find new head coaches, with top assistants like Frazier moving up the pecking order of those being considered.
For Vikings fans who want Frazier to stay in Minnesota, this can't be viewed as good news, since the crop of college coaches available has seemingly been taken out of play. While the cyclical nature of the NFL will likely see college coaches return to the mix for head coaching candidates in the future, it doesn't do the Vikings any favors right now.