So often in this business we refer to the path through the coaching profession as the "coaching ladder." But I don't think that's the right metaphor. Ladders serve one purpose: to get their users to the top. It assumes everyone's headed for the same place I'd rather refer to it as the coaching highway: everyone's heading somewhere different, and there are off ramps every mile.
Case in point: Nick Saban.
Perhaps the greatest -- and highest-paid -- head coach in college football history doesn't appear on the surface as the best example for the pitfalls of job-chasing in football. Easy for him to say, right? He's at the top of the ladder. Ah, but the coaching profession isn't a ladder, remember? As he told TheMMQB, Saban had to double back to an exit he'd previously passed to find the right job for him:
I guess there was a time when I said, O.K. if you win a national championship in college, because I was a pro coach for however many years I was, it’s time to go win the Super Bowl. That would make my career complete. But when I did that, I found out that I missed some of these things about college that were really important to me. So you learn about yourself. I just decided when I came back here, I wasn’t going to think about that any more.
I used to think at the end of the day, being a head coach in the NFL was the No. 1 thing. But when I got to that, it was like, Well maybe you already had the No. 1 thing for you and what you like.
Saban had the right fit at LSU, and didn't realize it until he was stuck waist deep in the quicksand that is the Miami Dolphins. Luckily for him, an equivalent job presented itself in the form of Alabama. (He is Nick Saban, after all.)
Maybe you're destined to be the next Nick Saban, the next Urban Meyer, the next Vince Lombardi. Maybe, but probably not. Perhaps you're a position coach striving for a coordinator job, blind to the fact that a position coaching job is the right fit for you. The coaching graveyard is littered with tombstones of career coordinators that mistakenly pursued head jobs. Maybe you're a lower division head coach yearning for an FBS gig, when the job you have is the right fit for you.
A job, a title, a level won't lead to a fulfilling career. Finding the right fit for you will.