Reaching the NFL isn’t just a goal shared by college players, but also the career aim of many coaches who worked tirelessly to get those athletes ready for the pros.

The SEC (the other coaching pinnacle, right?) has seen its share of coaches shuttling between college and the NFL. All told, 14 current SEC head coaches and coordinators have spent some Sundays on the sidelines, rather than at home playing fantasy football and gorging on chicken wings.

Three were NFL head coaches — a select fraternity reserved to only Nick Saban, Cam Cameron and Lane Kiffin. Granted, those three finished five-ish seasons with a combined 21-47 record. That number is made even less impressive considering Cam Cameron’s 1-15 record in his lone season with the Miami Dolphins and Lane Kiffin’s wonky 5-15 career mark after not returning to Oakland after the Raiders’ Week 4 bye in 2008.

It hasn’t all been less-than-spectacular, however, for current SEC coaches trying their hand at the professional ranks. After all, current conference coaches have logged a combined 67 seasons in the NFL.

Here is how the SEC coaching staffs rank in terms of years spent in the NFL. Note that staffs (head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators) of Kentucky, Mississippi State and Ole Miss are bereft of any NFL experience.


Les Miles (Dallas Cowboys TEs coach, 1998-2000).

OC Cam Cameron (Washington QBs, 1994-1996; San Diego Chargers OC, 2002-06; Miami Dolphins HC, 2007; and Baltimore Ravens OC, 2008-12).

Combined years in the NFL: 17.

Skinny: Cameron has spent the most time coaching in the NFL among all current SEC coaches and coordinators with 17 NFL seasons — the same amount of years by every team alphabetically-listed after LSU combined. The Tigers’ offensive coordinator is the only current SEC coach with a Super Bowl ring — despite being relieved of similar duties by the Baltimore with three games remaining in the Ravens’ title-winning 2012 season. It was Miles’ job in Dallas to make sure that the Cowboys tight ends were blocking and getting open for Troy Aikman.


Kirby Smart (Miami Dolphins S, 2006).

OC Jim Chaney (St. Louis Rams OL, 2006-08).

DC Mel Tucker (Cleveland Browns DBs, 2005-2007 and DC, 2008; Jacksonville Jaguars DC, 2010-12; and Chicago Bears DC, 2013 and 2014).

Combined years in the NFL: 13.

Skinny: Smart’s new staff in Georgia has the distinction of all three coaches boasting NFL experience, particularly during the 2006 campaign when all three were in the pros.

The following year, Smart followed Nick Saban out the door in the Miami — where Smart coached the safeties — landing in Tuscaloosa together. Two years later they won their first of four national titles with the Tide.

Tucker spent nine seasons coordinating the defenses of the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. His offensive counterpart in Athens, Chaney, spent three seasons managing the St. Louis Rams’ offensive line. Chaney’s offensive line was tasked with protecting current Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s quarterbacks on the Rams.

Tucker and the Browns defensive backs got the best of Chaney’s offensive line when the two met during the 2007 season, a 27-20 Cleveland victory.


Nick Saban (Houston Oilers DBs, 1988 and 1989; Cleveland Browns DC, 1991-94; and Miami Dolphins HC, 2005 and 2006).

OC Lane Kiffin (Jacksonville Jaguars QBs, 2000; Oakland Raiders HC, 2007 and 2008).

Combined years in the NFL: 11.

Skinny: Saban and Kiffin have each been head coaches in the NFL for two seasons, making them tops among all SEC coaches. Saban mustered a 15-17 record in two years in Miami, despite a Dolphins’ roster that featured the likes of Ricky Williams, Daunte Culpepper and Wes Welker. Kiffin took over the Raiders a year after Saban left Miami, and also finished below .500 with Daunte Culpepper spending time under center.


DC DeMontie Cross (Buffalo Bills LBs, 2006-10).

Combined years in the NFL: 5.

Skinny: Cross was meant to be at Missouri, but before the Tigers alum could return, he had to make several coaching stops. Among them was a five-year stretch heading up the Buffalo Bills linebackers. That unit included London Fletcher, as well former Auburn linebacker Takeo Spikes.


OC Mike DeBord (Seattle Seahawks OL, 2008, TEs 2009; and Chicago Bears TEs, 2010-12).

Combined years in the NFL: 5.

Skinny: Tennessee’s NFL experience rests entirely with DeBord. Before the Volunteers offensive coordinator joined Butch Jones’ staff, DeBord spent five years in the NFL with the Bears and Seahawks tight ends.


DC Kevin Steele (Carolina Panthers LBs, 1995-98).

Combined years in the NFL: 4.

Skinny: Steele, Auburn’s new defensive coordinator, was the first linebackers coach in Carolina Panthers history, a position he held through the 1998 season. Among the linebackers Steele helped develop were Hall of Famer Kevin Greene and 2016 Hall of Fame semifinalist Sam Mills.


Jim McElwain (Oakland Raiders QBs, 2006).

OC Doug Nussmeier (St. Louis Rams QBs, 2006 and 2007).

Combined years in the NFL: 3.

Skinny: Nussmeier is the only current head coach or coordinator to coach in the Canadian Football League, making stops with the BC Roughriders and Ottawa Renegades. But Nussmeier also spent time in the NFL.

McElwain’s Raiders waxed Nussmeier’s (and Jim Chaney’s) Rams 20-0 during the 2006 season. If fact, that season McElwain squared off against Mel Tucker’s Cleveland Browns, Noel Mazzone’s New York Jets and Cam Cameron’s San Diego Chargers, as well.


OC Noel Mazzone (New York Jets WRs, 2006-08).

Combined years in the NFL: 3.

Skinny: Mazzone spent three years coaching the New York Jets’ wide receivers. The new Texas A&M offensive coordinator’s final season with Gang Green saw him prepping his pass-catchers, including Missouri alum Brad Smith, to work with the legendary Brett Favre.


Derek Mason (Minnesota Vikings DBs, 2007-09).

Combined years in the NFL: 3.

Skinny: Before he was a Commodore, Mason was a Viking, creating an odd match of seafaring mascots. The defensive guru got his shot on the big stage working as defensive backs coach for Minnesota with the likes of Antoine Winfield and Darren Sharper. That group didn’t fare well during Mason’s first season in Minnesota, however, finishing last in the league in yards allowed through the air. The team improved to the middle of the pack in the coach’s next two seasons, before Mason eschewed the NFL for the same position at Stanford.


Will Muschamp (Miami Dolphins DC, 2005).

OC Kurt Roper (Cleveland Browns Offensive Assistant, 2015).

Combined years in the NFL: 2.

Skinny: Nick Saban tabbed Muschamp as his first defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins in 2005. Muschamp lasted one year with a defense that ranked right around the league average for yards allowed, before returning to the SEC with stints at Auburn and Florida before taking over at South Carolina. Roper is the most-recent NFL coach to make the jump back to the SEC, leaving the Cleveland Browns last year for a shot to run the South Carolina offense under Muschamp.


DC Robb Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers LBs, 2013).

Combined year in the NFL: 1

Skinny: Smith’s linebackers picked off nine passes and dropped quarterbacks 11 times for sacks during the 2013 season for the Buccaneers, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in Tampa Bay. Instead, a chance to join Bret Bielema’s staff as defensive coordinator at Arkansas was more enticing. Bielema is one of eight SEC head coaches who have never coached in the NFL.


The Dolphins have formerly employed the most current SEC personnel, with four coaches (Cameron, Muschamp, Saban and Smart).

The Cleveland Browns have held on to current SEC coaches the longest when they had them, keeping Roper, Saban and Tucker a combined nine seasons.

Other teams that have hired multiple current SEC coaches include the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams.

Defensive coordinator is the most common coaching position held by current SEC coaches during their time in the NFL, with five coaches holding the role during 11 pro seasons. That’s followed closely by linebackers coaches and offensive coordinators at 10 years apiece — even though all 10 years of the latter were held by Cameron.