The last decade of NFL Drafts, and results on the field, and results on National Signing Day, and, well, everything else, have proven over and over again that the shortest route to the NFL for a player is through the SEC. The same is not true, however, for coaches. According to ESPN’s Ivan Maisel, if you want to coach in the League, you must go West. 

The Pac-12 has been the top college pipeline for NFL head coaching talent, and there isn’t even a close second. Since 1970, 15 Pac-12 coaches have left for NFL head coaching jobs. Compare that figure with the Big East’s five, the SEC’s three and the Big Ten’s one, and you have to ask why the NFL so strongly prefers the Pac-12’s style of football.

“I think when you look at the NFL, you’re talking about entertainment,” former UCLA head coach Terry Donahue said. “They’re in the entertainment business, and they think about it as that. Pro football is always looking for some offensive firepower, and some fireworks.” Maisel notes that, while everyone else in college football spent the 1970’s dallying with the Wishbone, the Pac-12 was pioneering the aptly-named West Coast offense. 

Times have certainly changed since then, and the Pac-12 no longer enjoys a similar schematic advantage over other conferences, but the NFL’s preference for Pac-12 football remains. In the past four years, USC’s Pete Carroll, Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh and Oregon’s Chip Kelly have left for the professional ranks. And Maisel’s count doesn’t even include then-USC assistant Lane Kiffin taking the Oakland Raiders job in 2007.

Those of you with eyes on running a team in The League one day, the results are clear: Go west, young man.

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