College coaches don’t always work in the NFL. College football is all about macro-scheming, coming up with massive new schemes or retreading ancient schemes that completely throw off opponents and work to your strength. The NFL is all about micro-scheming, taking the same basic persennel that is available across the NFL and making small adjustments to maximize your talents and create mismatches. College coaches, to succeed in the NFL, must have the ability to incorporate elements of their macro-scheme into the firmly established pro football offense. The one caveat is that the spread offense is increasingly becoming usable in the NFL as rule changes enhance offensive opportunities.
So what coaches have what it takes? Let me suggest four:
1. Kirk Ferentz-Iowa
Ferentz is the picture of stability, respect, and football smarts. His offensive line knowledge and NFL background give indication that he could run a traditional style NFL offense quite well. He has managed to build a successful program over a 12 year time period, showing that he values longevity–something Colts fans should covet.
2. Lane Kiffen-USC
Lane Kiffen is probably not leaving USC. However, if he was willing, Indy may seem to be a perfect fit. Indy already has the basic elements of a Cover-2/Tampa-2 defense, something that he and his father/traveling Defensive Coordinator Monte K would love. Lane has NFL pedigree. Lane’s biggest negative is the Tennessee situation, something that does not sit well with many midwestern football fans.
3. Chip Kelly-Oregon
Chip Kelly has an offensive concept that, if connected with an NFL team, could be lethal. Kelly relies on speed, not scheme, to confuse and outwit the defense. His system is very similar to that developed by Tom Moore for Peyton Manning. The key difference is that Kelly’s no huddle runs out of the spread, and is run without audibles. His system, tied with a top tier QB (Manning or Luck?) could be a really cool fit in Indy.
4. Mike Dantonio-Michigan State
This is my favorite fit. He is a defensive guru who led his team to top 10 in 7 statistical catagories defensively this season. MSU has the best record in the Big Ten over his tenure, and most of that success is built off of his defense. His scheme is built on pressure and forcing turnovers, the key for NFL defenses. He uses lots of corner blitzing and double A gap blitzing (something Grigson would be familiar with from his time in Philly). This guy may be hard to pull from MSU, but I think the payoff could be fantastic