College coaches out of NFL mix?

After Atlanta and Miami were burned by head coaches returning to the college ranks, the NFL may be moving away from considering college coaches for head NFL jobs. That would mean a smaller field of competition for Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

The Vikings find themselves once again sitting and waiting as their defensive coordinator begins a tour around the league for prospective head-coaching positions, but this time around they don't have an ace in the hole NFL teams have had in the past.

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.


  • Frazier is the sixth candidate to be contacted by Denver for their coaching vacancy, joining Miami secondary coach Todd Bowles, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and in-house candidate Rick Dennison, who was offensive coordinator under deposed coach Mike Shanahan.

  • Former Viking Carl Eller cut a deal to avoid a jury trial in exchange for having two felony counts dropped stemming from a drunk driving arrest last year. With the two main felony charges off the table, a judge will rule on the two lesser charges from the April incident fourth-degree assault and refusal to submit to a field sobriety test. A verdict is expected to come by Jan. 26.

  • Adrian Peterson is one of three finalists for the FedEx Ground Player of the Year, along with Michael Turner and DeAngelo Williams. The NFL gives out weekly awards sponsored by FedEx for the top rushing and passing (The FedEx Air Player) performances. The players of the year will be announced Jan. 23. Fans can vote for A.D. by going to the NFL's website and clicking on the FedEx link.

  • Jared Allen will be an in-studio guest on ESPN's NFL Countdown show from 10 a.m. to noon (CT) Sunday. Darren Sharper may be doing a similar spot as an analyst for the NFL Network this week as a correspondent for the Eagles-Giants game.

  • The Vikings signed offensive tackle Chris Clark to a futures contract. Clark spent time on the Vikings practice squad in 2008.

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