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Is College Or Pro Safer For Harbaugh?

Tuesday, 4 Jan 2011 | 4:56 PM ET
Jim Harbaugh
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Jim Harbaugh

Stanford's Jim Harbaugh has a choice. Should he stay coaching the college game or should he leap to the NFL? If he stays at Stanford, he obviously has built up more goodwill there and therefore can afford a few lean years, but that’s the exception.

So let’s say, for argument’s sake, the choice was between any college other than Stanford and any NFL team.

Assuming the dollars are close, you’d assume that Harbaugh would be safer staying in college. The prevailing thought is that college teams, in general, are more patient than NFL teams with that built in full five years of recruiting philosophy. But I found out that’s not really the case.

Over the last 10 years, on average, 16 percent of FBS coaches get fired each season. That’s compared to the NFL, whose teams fire 19.8 percent of their coaches each year.

So is Harbaugh safer by going to college due to a lower turnover? Well, it’s even a closer call when you consider that two NFL seasons had more than 30 percent of the league’s coaches turn over (2006 and 2009), while the biggest college coaching turnover year in the last decade had only 21.4 percent turnover (2001).

When you break it down by years, a higher percentage of college football coaches were fired than their NFL counterparts for four out of the last ten years.

So Jim, you might hear the college vs. NFL argument when coaching longevity is brought up. But, at least over the last decade, it doesn’t seem to matter what level you at which you chose to coach. Just win.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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