College football coaches who should have stayed in school

Posted 2 days ago  |  By Sam Robinson

Urban Meyer is attempting to carry his college mastery to the NFL. Several have tried to accomplish this, only to come up short. This group of coaches, which includes a host of national championship winners, serves as a reminder how difficult this jump can be.

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Lisle Blackbourn

Lisle Blackbourn
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

A Wisconsin lifer, Blackbourn only coached in The Badger State. He took the Packers’ reins in 1954, after four seasons at Marquette. Several Hall of Famers — from Bart Starr to halfback Paul Hornung to tackle Forrest Gregg to center Jim Ringo — arrived during Blackbourn’s four-year tenure. However, no winning seasons ensued, with Green Bay’s resurrection not occurring until Vince Lombardi’s 1959 arrival. While Blackbourn went just 17-31, Lombardi rehired the longtime high school coach as a scout years later. 

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Rich Brooks

Rich Brooks
Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

A handful of Pac-8/Pac-10/Pac-12 coaches have fallen short of NFL success. Brooks spent time as a Rams assistant in the early 1970s but entrenched himself at Oregon for most of the next 25 years, coaching the Ducks for 18 seasons. After their 1994 Rose Bowl bid, Brooks accepted an offer to return to the Rams as their first St. Louis-era head coach. Brooks’ tenure started off well, with the Rams upsetting the Brett Favre-led Packers and going 4-0 in 1995. But he finished with two losing seasons, with 1996’s Jerome Bettis trade and the selection of troubled running back Lawrence Phillips sixth overall aging poorly. 

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Dan Devine

Dan Devine
Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Millennials surely know Devine better as the coach who steadfastly refused to play Rudy Ruettiger, but Devine only arrived at Notre Dame — as the 1993 film also notes — after a stint with the Packers. Devine became a head coach at 30, being tabbed to lead Arizona State, and spent 13 seasons at Missouri. He joined the Packers in 1971, inheriting some of Lombardi’s former stalwarts. Despite Starr’s retirement, Devine led the 1972 Packers to an NFC Central title. QB play, however, keyed Green Bay’s ensuing downfall. 1974’s disastrous trade for John Hadl preceded Devine’s exit and a lengthy Packers swoon. 

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