College football and the NFL have fused schematically.
The styles of play aren’t exactly the same at the two levels, of course, nor from team to team at each. But the big concepts popular at one level are also popular at the other, whether that’s the Chiefs running the shotgun triple option with Patrick Mahomes or Alabama installing an ambitious downfield passing game for Tua Tagovailoa.
The last Super Bowl was loaded with Xs and Os that used to be considered college’s domain. The option has permeated all levels of the sport. Spread offenses have gradually filtered upward. NFL teams have looked to Oklahoma’s coach for ideas. Lamar Jackson just won an NFL division while running option plays his foes used to think were a fad.
The NFL is so into college-style offense that two teams want to interview Kliff Kingsbury, whom Texas Tech fired in November. But Kingsbury’s new school, USC, doesn’t want him to interview with those teams.