The Detroit Lions are one of several NFL teams searching for their new head coach. After firing Matt Patricia back in late November, the franchise might go in a different direction with its next hire.
Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders is part of Detroit’s advisory group for selecting the team’s next head coach, and he recently brought up the possibility of hiring a college coach during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“From what I understand, there’s definitely some college coaches involved in our process of who Chris (Spielman) is looking at,” Sanders said, via the Detroit Free Press. “He’s taking a good look at both. And so yeah, to answer your question, there’s some great college coaches out there that could step in and do the job and obviously there’s offensive and defensive coordinators in the league as well that are being looked at, so that’s kind of how we’re looking at it.”
Will that end up happening? It’s possible, but doubtful.
The interview list includes only coaches from the NFL — at least so far. That could change in the future, but we should take it at face value at this time. But Sanders doesn’t feel that the Lions should completely rule it out.
“I’m not sure what emphasis Chris would place on whether you’re coming from college or pros,” Sanders said. “For me, it depends on who’s available, but you don’t rule a guy out because he’s coming from the college ranks. A lot of the college coaches have spent time in both leagues. And I think now more than ever, the college game and the pro game are very similar in a lot of ways that you’re running your offense and your defense. And so it’s not as big of a jump as it may have been a generation ago.”
Sanders is correct. College-styled offenses are becoming more common in the NFL, and the familiarity and crossover between the two levels isn’t as big of a deal as it has been in the past.
Kliff Kingsbury failed at Texas Tech University before finding moderate success in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. It’s still early, but it looks like that was the correct move for him — and for Arizona.
So, what type of coach does Sanders believe will be the right fit for his former team? We’ll let him tell you.
“Someone who can really speak to the players and really meet them at their level,” Sanders said. “I mean, you have, in a given locker room, you have wide ranges of ages and experiences and talent levels, and even levels of motivation so that you can have someone that can really reach these guys and get them to understand it is a great opportunity coming to a program where maybe you haven’t won but you can establish that reputation.”
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.