Big East coaches into NFL pipeline

Two years in a row now, the Big East has produced an NFL head coach.

No other conference can say that.

First Greg Schiano left Rutgers for Tampa Bay in January 2012.

Then Doug Marrone left Syracuse for Buffalo in January 2013.

In fact, up until the Eagles hired Oregon coach Chip Kelly on Wednesday, the Big East was the only conference to send coaches into the NFL the past two seasons. None of this comes as much news to Big East fans, who are used to seeing their coaches leave for bigger opportunities elsewhere. But more often than not, Big East coaches have left for bigger college opportunities.

This NFL trend is relatively new. Of the 10 Big East coaches who have left for another job since 2006, only three went to the NFL. The last before Schiano and Marrone was Bobby Petrino, who left Louisville for Atlanta in 2006. His tenure there lasted 13 games, before he went to Arkansas.

The bottom line is the Big East has produced some pretty terrific head coaches. Many fans have asked me what these Big East teams can do to hold on to the rising stars in the business. The answer is not much, especially when an opportunity to coach in the NFL arises. Marrone and Schiano are the perfect examples. Schiano was at Rutgers for 11 years, the chief architect of an incredible turnaround. He turned down various overtures from bigger programs to stay with the Scarlet Knights. But the NFL? Well, that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Marrone played at Syracuse, and once called the job there his "dream job." He was fully invested and committed. It was hard to envision him leaving for another college job, given all his ties to the program and community. But the NFL? Well, as he said during his introductory news conference, that is a dream job, too.