It used to be that college football coaches were always looking to move up to the NFL. For the exposure, for the money, for the chance to be in the pros. That's not so much the way it is anymore. More and more NFL coaches are moving to the college football ranks and they are not taking that big of a pay cut to do so. In fact, some of them are getting paid MORE to move to college. College football is awash in money and more and more NFL coaches are cashing in.
Just this college football offseason several NFL coaches have made the move to the college ranks. Greg Mattison of the Ravens to Michigan. Eric Bieniemy from the Vikings to Colorado. Charlie Weiss from the Chiefs to Florida. Dan Quinn from the Seahawks to Florida. Malcolm Blacken from the Redskins to Colorado. And there are more. College football is not the "step down" it had once been considered from the NFL. As more and more revenue pours into college football programs, their ability to hire NFL coaches becomes more and more likely. Of course, in my opinion, this only serves to professionalize college football even more. Colleges are looking for any leverage they might have to negotiate better and bigger TV revenue deals, and winning teams allow you to do that, recruiting allows you to do that. If you have a former NFL coach on your college staff, you are even more likely to get top recruits who want to be trained by someone with NFL experience. In the end though, it all comes back to the money.
Contracts for these former NFL coaches are on the rise and a brief look at some of the more significant ones shows that going to college football isn't a step down. In 2009, Tennessee paid Monte Kiffin 1.2 million per year and Ed Orgeron 650,000. And last year Georgia paid Todd Grantham 750,000. Colorado AD Mike Bohn said that Eric Bieniemy's deal is "clearly a historical high" in terms of money and length. Michigan AD Dave Brandon said of Mattison that he is "relatively sure the deal will surpass anything the school has done in the past for a football assistant." The Big Ten and the SEC have both made huge TV deals that are bringing in boatloads of money that these schools can use to attract NFL coaches.
With more and more money going into these college programs, expect more and more NFL coaches to consider a trip to the universities. The current crop of coaches going to the college ranks is just the beginning.