NFL: The Pressure of Coaching

Chris JohnsonContributor IIJanuary 17, 2010

RENTON, WA - JANUARY 12:  Pete Carroll answers questions at a press conference announcing his hiring as the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks on January 12, 2010 at the Seahawks training facility in Renton, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

There has been a lot of talk around the water cooler about Pete Carroll's acceptance of the head coaching job with the Seattle Seahawks. While Pete is a good coach, there may be some skeletons that emerge from his closet when the NCAA investigations are through at USC.

When you look at college football coaches that have left for the NFL, there seems to be limited amounts of success for many of them. What worked for these coaches in the college ranks may not work for them at the professional level.

Take Barry Switzer for instance. Barry was the head coach of the highly acclaimed Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners had a great track record for winning the big games. An offense that was driven by its use of the "wish-bone" formation, and a defense that was always rated in the top ten.

But when Barry was chosen to lead the Dallas Cowboys, his hands were tied. Did we see the "wish-bone" in the pros? Who called the plays, Barry or Jerry?

For those of us on the outside of the Dallas Cowboys organization, we'll never know. If I were a betting man, I would have to say Jerry was attempting to be what he never was, a head coach. Some people have got it and others don't!

In the highly competitive world of college football there has to be a reason for the jump to the professional level. Is the job market of a professional football coach that lucrative? Does the NFL pay better than a college would? Is there less pressure in the professional ranks? Is it ego that pushes college coaches to become NFL coaches?

NFL coaching jobs are not as easy as you might think. A college coach has to build a reputation for winning the big games, turning a losing program around, being creative with their play calling, guessing what another coach might call in a particular situation, etc. By building up credibility with his program, a college coach could get a call from the big league, to join their staff.

Is the pay for coaches in the NFL better than college? YES! Though college coaches salaries have been improving over the years so have the expectations. College coaches have to also watch out for more items than before.

NCAA rules are strict. A college coach has to watch out that those rules are followed. Paying players to play, allowing players to get something for nothing, letting players take tests where someone else will be answering the questions for them, becoming involved in criminal actions: these are all illegal. They have to be coach, parent, and sometimes nursemaid to their players.

Each college wants their sports program to draw more people. National championships are important for further recruitment, not only sports but enrollment. The better the sports program, the higher ticket sales. The more butts in the seats equals more concession money, souvenir profits, clothing sales, etc. It all boils down to money. There is more than one reason these universities have sports programs and it has nothing to do with education. 

In both the NFL and college ranks, the pressure for a head coach to succeed is extremely high. To say a coach is a seasonal job is completely inadequate. The head coach is at work 24/7, 365 days a year. He's watching films, learning, and coming up with any idea that will improve his teams performance.

The pressure is always on for head coaches, of any team. College coaches feel the pressure when they begin any new season. Expectations are high every year when competing for a national championship or Super Bowl.  Every coach worth a grain of salt knows that last years record is last years record. This years record is the only thing that matters.

Everyone wants to be the best in their chosen profession. You don't get to the top of the heap by sitting on your duff. It takes a lot of work to be good at something you love. Fail or succeed, each person must choose their own destiny with the best game plan they can.

With all of the turmoil from the last football season, there are bound to be other changes. More college football coaches may be joining the ranks in the NFL. Each coach has to keep up his homework and study plan to keep up with their competition. If a coach doesn't keep up with his research, he'll be back at school soon enough.