Collegiate head coaches who make a successful transition into the NFL are a rare breed.
Before leading the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins, Jimmy Johnson was the main mentor for the University of Miami Hurricanes.
The coach who replaced him, Barry Switzer, was the Oklahoma Sooners’ tactician for 16 seasons before clinching the Cowboys’ third Super Bowl title.
Pete Carroll also came from USC before winning Super Bowl XLVIII with the Seattle Seahawks.
On the Pete Carroll & Russell Wilson Era for the #Seahawks
Things come to an end. There is no villain. There is no bad guy. They brought the Hawks to levels they have never been. Won a Super Bowl. Perennial power. Almost TWO Super Bowls.
Salute. Thank you. It's been amazing.
— Gyasi Ross (@BigIndianGyasi) November 22, 2021
But NFL teams looking for a new head coach might consider hot prospects from the college ranks.
Those coaches with impressive records over multiple seasons will get interests from franchises in need of a reset.
However, signing them to a contract might entail huge monetary offers because they already are earning a ton of money.
Here are three college coaches who might lead an NFL team in 2022.
3. Ryan Day – Ohio State
The fact that Ryan Day lost only seven games in his coaching stint with the Ohio State Buckeyes is remarkable.
Day took over Urban Meyer, who went on administrative leave and never looked back.
He won all three games as acting head coach in 2019 and went 30-3 over the next three seasons.
This former University of New Hampshire standout also led the Buckeyes to two conference titles, two National Championship Game appearances, and a victory in the 2020 Sugar Bowl.
James Franklin: just signed a 10-yr $70+ million extension with Penn State
Mel Tucker: offered a 10-yr $95 million contract extension with Michigan State
Jim Harbaugh: signed a 4-yr extension with ❌ichigan worth $17+ million
Ryan Day: undefeated against all three of them
— Barstool OSU (@BarstoolOSU) November 23, 2021
The 42-year-old Day received the 2019 Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.
Getting hired by an NFL team would lead Day into his third coaching stint in the professional ranks.
He became the quarterback’s coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Teams must offer him a lucrative contract because he’s earning an annual salary of $7.6 million with Ohio State.
2. Matt Campbell – Iowa State
There were reports that Matt Campbell declined an eight-year, $68.5 million offer by the Detroit Lions before the 2021 NFL season.
It turned out to be the right decision for him because of how the team’s campaign unfolded.
Likewise, it would be hard for him to leave the program he built from the ground up.
Campbell became the Cyclones’ head coach in 2016 after spending five seasons with the Toledo Rockets.
— Jonathan Schaeffer (@J_SchaefferWOI) November 26, 2021
Unfortunately, Iowa State went 3-9 in his first year.
It didn’t take long for him to turn around the team’s fortunes.
The Cyclones never had a losing season since and finished first in the Big 12 last year.
His efforts in building the school’s football program earned him Big 12 Coach of the Year honors twice.
The Associated press also hailed the 41-year-old mentor as Big 12 Coach of the Year two times
If Matt Campbell is smart…he stays at ISU, wins 8-10 games a year for 30 years and they build him a statue. He’s built it into a good program. Stay put and be a hero. Don’t go fight boosters at a blue blood. 🤷🏻♂️
— Jordan Walker (@JordanWalker___) November 27, 2021
The Cyclones finished their season at 7-5 to clinch their fifth straight winning record this year.
NFL teams looking to hire him might consider a buyout because he signed a contract with Iowa State that runs until 2028.
The new deal will reportedly pay him $4 million annually and $3 million for staff salary enhancements.
1. Lincoln Riley – Oklahoma
There is a rave about young head coaches in the NFL today, and Riley fits into that category.
Aside from being only 38 years old, the Texas native maintained Oklahoma’s powerhouse status in college football.
The former Texas Tech standout became the Sooners’ head coach when Bob Stoops retired after the 2016 season.
Since then, Riley has led Oklahoma to a 55-9 overall record, including a 37-6 mark on Big 12 games.
— dylan sanders (@DillySanders) November 26, 2021
He also led the Sooners to three first-place finishes in the conference and four Top Ten rankings in the Associated Press poll.
The 2018 Big 12 Coach of the Year is reportedly earning $6.5 million a year.
But like Campbell, hiring Riley might entail a buyout because he agreed to a six-year, $45.2 million extension that ties him to Oklahoma until 2025.