Interesting news broke recently that the Cleveland Cavaliers wanted to lure Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari to their NBA team so badly that they offered him a 10-year deal worth around $80 million. Amazingly, Calipari turned the offer down. Of course, this wasn’t the first time Calipari was offered an NBA deal and the success rate of college coaches who make the jump to the NBA is non-existent. While there have been a success stories in the NFL, the NBA seems a place that might be too hot for college coaches to handle.
John Calipari (UMass to Boston)
The big reason that Calipari might have turned down the giant offer is that he has been there before. He took a million less a year to stay at Kentucky, where he won a national championship in 2012. Back in 1992, Calipari led Massachusetts to the Final Four and it paid off in 1996 when the New Jersey Nets hired him to jump to the NBA. After a rough start, he took them to the playoffs in 1997, but he was fired the next year, in the lockout shortened season when his team started out 3-17. In 2000, he returned to college and was a success again.
Pete Carroll (USC to Seattle)
Things have been much more successful for college coaches making the jump to the NFL. The most recent success story has to be Pete Carroll. Of course, the big difference is that Carroll was in the NFL before, an assistant for the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers while also serving as the head coach for the New York Jets and New England Patriots. However, he wasn’t successful as a head coach at that time. In 2001, he went to USC and coached them to two BCS National Championship appearances. When he returned to the NFL, he took over as coach of the Seattle Seahawks and led them to a Super Bowl win in his fourth season.
Jimmy Johnson (Miami to Dallas)
It is yet to be seen if Carroll can be the best college coach to make the jump to the big leagues. Right now, that title rests with Jimmy Johnson. He was the head coach at the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Miami Hurricanes, where he led Miami to a national championship. He took over for Tom Landry when Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys and then led them to two Super Bowl wins, the first coach to ever win a national title in college and Super Bowl title in the NFL.