• Sports News
  • NFL
  • 6 college coaches who failed in the NFL
Alabama head coach Nick Saban

6 college coaches who failed in the NFL

Every time an NFL head coaching job opens up there is always a rumor about which college football coach would be a good fit. There have been a number of football coaches that have excelled at the college level. It makes everyone wonder why they have not jumped at an NFL job.

Some college football coaches are not meant to be in the NFL. Being a head coach in the NFL is tough. There are more people that the coach has to answer to and more responsibility to win football games. Here are the six college football coaches that made the jump to the NFL and failed.


1) Steve Spurrier, NFL Team: Washington Football Team

Former Washington Football Team head coach Steve Spurrier

Steve Spurrier would make the jump into the NFL from college in the 2002 NFL Season for the Washington Football Team. Spurrier would sign the highest head coaching contract in NFL history at the time. Washington was hoping that the offensive success that he had at Florida would carry over into the NFL.

Spurrier has a decent first season with Washington finishing 7-9. This would give Washington hope that they had made the right decision in hiring Spurrier. In the 2003 NFL Season, Washington would finish with a record of 5-11. At the end of the 2003 NFL Season, Steve Spurrier would resign as the Washington head coach. In two seasons he led Washington to just 12 wins.


2) Nick Saban, NFL Team: Miami Dolphins

Former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Nick Saban

When thinking of Nick Saban we all think of the success that he has had at the college level. His success at Alabama is historic and he will go down as probably the best college football head coach of all time. Before making the jump to the NFL, Nick Saban was coming off a successful run at LSU.

Miami Dolphins were looking for a change at the head coaching position and Nick Saban would accept the challenge. Saban would spend the 2005 and 2006 NFL Season in Miami. He would end his two year career with a record of 15-17. Saban made the mistake of treating the players like college kids and bumped heads with a lot of them. After two seasons with the Dolphins, Nick Saban would leave to be the head coach at Alabama.


3) Bobby Petrino, NFL Team: Atlanta Falcons

Former Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Bobby Petrino

Bobby Petrino is one of the biggest busts when it comes to college football coaches going to the NFL. Petrino has been successful throughout his college football head coaching career. When he decided to accept the Atlanta Falcons head coaching job in the 2007 NFL season he would be in over his head.


Petrino would only coach 13 games for the Atlanta Falcons leading them to a 3-10 record. To make things worse he would walk away from the Falcons before the season ended to take the University of Louisville job. It gets better, Petrino would write a paragraph letter to each player on the Atlanta Falcons roster. He would put that resignation letter in each players lockers before he left for good.

4) Butch Davis, NFL Team: Cleveland Browns

Former Cleveland Browns Head Coach Butch Davis

Cleveland Browns would hire former college coach Butch Davis in the 2001 NFL Season. He would spend four years with the Browns. His best moment as Cleveland's head coach was taking them to the playoffs in the 2002 NFL Season. This would be the only accomplishment he would obtain in Cleveland.


Davis would have a record of 24-35 over the four year stretch. In 2004 the Cleveland Browns would force Butch Davis to resign as Head Coach. This decision was forced because of the Browns 3-8 record. Butch Davis would resign after Week 12 of the NFL Season.

5) Dennis Erickson, NFL Teams: Seahawks and 49ers

Former Seahawks and 49ers Head Coach Dennis Erickson

Dennis Erickson would get two cracks at being an NFL head coach. His first shot was with the Seattle Seahawks in the 1995 NFL Season. Erickson coached four years for the Seattle Seahawks and posted three 8-8 seasons and one 7-9 season. He would be fired by the Seahawks at the end of the 1998 NFL Season.

Dennis Erickson would head back to college and rebuild the Oregon State football program. This caught the eyes of the San Francisco 49ers. They would give Dennis Erickson another shot at the NFL in the 2003 NFL Season. This opportunity did not last long and was not successful. Erickson would only win nine games as the 49ers head coach in two seasons.

6) Lou Holtz, NFL Team: New York Jets

Former Head Coach Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz has had one of the best college football head coaching careers. After putting together four great years at North Carolina State. Holtz would accept the job to be the head coach for the New York Jets in the 1976 NFL Season. Lou Holtz would only last one season as the Jets head coach. Holtz would be the second college football coach to not finish a full NFL season. He would resign after the Jets posted a 3-10 record in the 1976 NFL Season.

Edited by
See more
More from Sportskeeda