According to Jason La Canfora, a number of prominent college football coaches could be more willing to make the jump to the NFL because of the pandemic significantly impacting the college revenue landscape.
COVID-19 has already forced dozens of cancellations and prompted athletic programs to dramatically restructure, including cutting other sports. La Canfora says agents for prominent coaches anticipate salaries for football coaches could be recalibrated as well.
That means coaches who were already inclined to pursue a move to the NFL will be even more motivated to do so. La Canfora notes Notre Dame HC Brian Kelly has been looking at making the jump for some time now, while Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh could be looking for a job soon and has some NFL success on his resume.
There’s also Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, who was pursued by the Packers in 2019 before they ended up hiring Matt LaFleur. La Canfora says sources believe Fitzgerald would need a utopian situation to leave Northwestern and the only NFL job they could see fitting that would be the Bears.
College football’s big coaching white whale, though, is Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, although La Canfora writes he’s not seen as in demand this year as he was in the past.
Coaching the Sooners is a terrific job but La Canfora adds Riley is willing to listen to NFL teams and some close to him believe he could more seriously embrace the NFL in 2021.
Riley, 37, began his coaching career as an assistant at Texas Tech back in 2003. He worked his way up to WRs coach before departing to become the offensive coordinator at East Carolina.
Riley joined the Oklahoma staff in 2015 as their offensive coordinator/QBs coach before taking over as head coach for Bob Stoops in 2017.
For his career, Riley has led the Sooners to a record of 41-8, but has yet to win a bowl game.