The Chicago Bears aren’t ready to pull the plug on Matt Nagy yet. However, it’s apparent his grip on the head coaching job is slipping. After a 5-1 start, the team is in danger of entering the bye week 5-5 with their season in a freefall. A big reason for that is the horrible offense the coach has put on the field. So bad that he fired himself as offensive play-caller in favor of Bill Lazor.
There is a strong belief both he and GM Ryan Pace could be squarely on the hot seat down the stretch. That is why many Bears fans are already pondering who could replace him if the worst does happen. This is where an interesting stat comes into play. Since the Bears were founded in 1920, they’ve hired 15 head coaches following George Halas. Of those 15, not a single one of them came from the college ranks.
Why is that so hard to fathom?
Keep this in mind. The Bears hired Jack Pardee fresh off a stint in the defunct World Football League. They also hired Marc Trestman straight from the CFL. Yet they’ve never ventured into the college ranks. A fascinating trend. Could it possibly be one that comes to an end in 2021? It’s too early to tell.
That said, a source told SM that team ownership is showing a greater interest in college coaches than years past. A number of names are floating around including Matt Campbell of Iowa State and Mario Cristobal of Oregon. Given where the season stands, it’s uncertain if this interest will hold a few months from now. That said, it remains something to monitor.
Chicago Bears could take advantage of strange circumstances
A big part of why the Bears may have an interest in this venture is because more of the big names in college could be open to jumping to the NFL than usual. Why? The stark realities of COVID-19. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports revealed the viral outbreak is having a brutal impact on the financial stability of several athletic programs around the country.
“With COVID-19 taking a significant toll on college athletics and the future economics of NCAA athletic departments coming into question, a multitude of big-time college coaches are more open to a jump to the NFL, according to numerous sources close to the situation.”
This could be a prime opportunity for the Bears to pluck somebody who may never have been available under normal circumstances. That would explain their interest. The New York Jets tried to interview Campbell last year but he declined. His track record speaks for itself. He made Toledo a regular winner between 2011 and 2015, collecting nine wins in three of his final four seasons. Then he went to Iowa State in 2016, where they hadn’t had a winning record in six years and had them 8-5 by his second season. They haven’t had a losing record since.
Cristobal is another fast-rising name
After a solid run at FIU, he was fired in 2013. He became assistant head coach at Alabama and helped the Crimson Tide win a national championship in 2015. That led to him getting the head coaching job at Oregon. That program is 23-7 since he took over including a Rose Bowl victory last season following a 12-2 record.
Bringing a college head coach to the NFL is always a risk. At the same time, there are plenty of success stories. Tom Coughlin came from Boston College to immediate success in Jacksonville and later New York. Dick Vermeil made noise at UCLA before elevating his star in Philadelphia and St. Louis. Jimmy Johnson built a dynasty in Dallas after dominating Miami University.
Maybe it’s time the Chicago Bears took their own shot at it.