College Football Coaches Leaving for the NFL 2024 Include Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Hafley

    As the pressure mounts for college football coaches, some are seeking refuge in the NFL. Which college coaches are leaving and to where?

    Recruiting, realignment, NIL, and just the general chaos of the sport have led to some college football coaches searching for a jump to the NFL. With the future of the sport in flux more so than ever, so is the future of some of its play-callers.

    As some decided the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, let’s look at who is leaving behind a coveted college football position for a new job in the NFL.

    College Football Coaches Switching Saturdays for Sundays in 2024

    Jim Harbaugh, HC, Los Angeles Chargers

    Jim Harbaugh has been rumored to back coaching in the NFL seemingly since the moment he took over at the helm of the Michigan Wolverines in 2015. After nine seasons in Ann Arbor with an 86-25 record, three Big 10 Championships (2021-2023), and the 2024 College Football National Championship, he finally decided it was time.

    Harbaugh is more than familiar with the pro game. He played in the NFL from 1987 to 2001 and was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014, leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2013. Now he’s back in the pros, this time in charge of the Los Angeles Chargers with Justin Herbert under center.

    Jeff Hafley, DC, Green Bay Packers

    Harbaugh is the only college head coach to get an NFL head coach job this cycle, but a couple of head coaches took demotions to coach in the pro ranks. Jeff Hafley resigned from the Boston College Eagles to be the defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers after four years (2020-2023) and a 22-26 record with the Eagles.

    Hafley was a defensive backs coach in the NFL for three teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-2013), the Cleveland Browns (2014-2015), and the San Francisco 49ers (2016-2018), before jumping to college as the Ohio State DC in 2019. He’s bringing another college coach with him, hiring UAB’s OL coach Eddie Gordon as an assistant OL coach with the Packers.

    Dino Babers, OC/QB coach, Arizona Cardinals

    Unlike the first two coaches on this list, Dino Babers didn’t choose to be available on the job market, but he found a decent landing spot, given the circumstances. He was let go with one game left last season after eight years in charge of the Syracuse Orange, amassing a 41-55 record in upstate New York.

    MORE: 2024 College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    With previous head coaching stops at Eastern Illinois (2012-2013) and Bowling Green (2014-2015), Babers isn’t the boss for the first time in over a decade. However, he’ll get to coach former Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray with the Arizona Cardinals, and he’s trading New York winters for Arizona sunshine. There are worse ways to get fired.

    Liam Coen, OC, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Liam Coen has gone back and forth between the NFL and college football a few times, so this isn’t new territory for him. Coen first jumped to the pros, joining the Los Angeles Rams after two seasons as the OC at Maine (2016-2018).

    He stuck with the Rams as assistant WR coach (2018-2019) and assistant quarterback coach (2020) before jumping back to college as OC at Kentucky (2021). That lasted one season before he returned to the Rams in an elevated role as OC in 2022, following a Super Bowl-winning season for the organization.

    The Rams struggled that year (5-12), and head coach Sean McVay was non-committal about his own return, prompting Coen to head back to Kentucky as OC again in 2023.

    One more flip-flop for Coen as he returns to the NFL as OC of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2024.

    Kliff Kingsbury, OC, Washington Commanders

    A storied college football figure at Texas Tech as one of just 18 quarterbacks to surpass 5,000 yards passing in a season, Kliff Kingsbury was given the keys at both levels as head coach of Texas Tech (2013-2018) and then the Arizona Cardinals (2019-2022).

    Both tenures ended with losing records — 35-40 in six seasons with the Red Raiders and 28-37 in four years with the Cardinals. A well-respected quarterback savant, Kingsbury returned to college as a senior analyst at USC last season to help Caleb Williams.

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    Even though the wins didn’t come to fruition as a coach, Kingsbury guided Johnny Manziel (2012), Baker Mayfield (2013) and Patrick Mahomes (2014-2016) at the collegiate level, and Kyler Murray in the pros (2019-2022).

    Including Williams, that’s four Heisman Trophy winners under his tutelage, with the only non-winner of that bunch being Mahomes, a three-time Super Bowl winner.

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

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