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LSU Tiger Head Coach Name Game: NFL

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Examining potential future head coaches currently working in the NFL

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

With several weeks before the Ed Orgeron era officially ends, Scott Woodward has ample time, at least by coaching standards, to find a head coach. While most projections suggest that the next coach will come from the college rankings, it would be unwise to think that some NFL coaches won’t have an interest or be considered as the next Tiger head coach.

One of the first names that comes to mind in pulling from the NFL rankings is Joe Brady. The former LSU passing game coordinator has spent the last two seasons as the Panthers offensive coordinators and figures to be an NFL head coach in the near future. In spite of his incredible rise, Brady is not a perfect candidate. First, by all accounts Brady wants to remain in the NFL as the 24/7 nature of recruiting was not very appealing. Second, in two seasons as the Panther OC, his offenses have not been that impressive at least from a high-level, statistical standpoint.

A name which has surfaced recently, is Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. In a radio interview former Bills GM Doug Whaley notes that LSU (and USC for that matter) could increase Tomlin’s pay and give him even more control over the roster than he does now. As far as credentials, Tomlin certainly has them as the Steelers have never posted a losing season in his 14 years as a head coach. However, his last college coaching job was back in 1998 as a defensive back coach at Arkansas State. Herm Edwards has proven, at least to some extent, that a long-time NFL person can find success at the college level, but is that a risk Woodward is willing to take? And recently, he aggressively shot down the idea leading one to believe the likelihood of Tomlin going back to college is slim.

Speaking of back, Tom Herman. Likely, Herman isn’t a serious candidate for this position but currently serving as an offensive analyst for the Bears, he is probably interested in a new job with more responsibility.

Eric Bieniemy, considered one of the hottest names among NFL assistant coaches who are primed to become head coaches, also could be of potential interest for the LSU head coach opportunity. Bieniemy actually has more recent college coaching experience than one might think, having served as OC at Colorado from 2011-2012. He was also born in New Orleans, giving him ties to Louisiana. Of course, one runs into problem of, 1) if Bieniemy wants to coach college, and 2) would he be effective as a head coach. The latter is especially pertinent as Bieniemy has never been a head coach at any level.

Another name that could sound familiar, albeit likely a long shot, is Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen. Remember, Nielsen had agreed to take the LSU defensive coordinator job last year before Sean Payton exercised a clause in Nielsen’s contract which blocked the move; and although Payton has put a lot of effort into retaining Nielsen, it would seem the 49-year old position coach is set for bigger and better things. Prior to the Saints, Nielsen spent his first 12 years of coaching at the college level, including roles as a defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator, and his track record of developing defensive lineman is outstanding. That said, LSU is essentially getting rid of its sitting head coach who has a resume similar to Orgerons.

Now if Scott Woodward is as big game hunting as he says he is, Seahawk coach Pete Carroll would be about as big game hunting as one could get. Carroll’s credentials are pretty evident, having led USC to one of the most dominant decades in college football history while coaching some of the best players to ever play at the college level. His NFL resumé, while not as spectacular, is still quite strong. Of course, Carroll has now been at the NFL level for over a decade and seems to be quite content running the Seahawks. At 70, retirement talk will obviously be circulating now and moving forward, regardless of what position Carroll is in.

Names like Brian Daboll (current Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator), Todd Bowles (current Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator) and others could make their way into the conversation, but even then, the odds of the next Tiger head coach coming from the NFL ranks seems relatively low.