Steve Spurrier, Rich Brooks, Nick Saban and, now, Bobby Petrino.
The common denominator? If that NFL gig doesn't work out, come back to an SEC campus.
Petrino made his mark at Louisville. He lasted 13 games as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons before resigning last December to take the Arkansas job.
"I like going to softball games, basketball games, being a part of the entire university," Petrino said Thursday on an SEC spring football teleconference. "It's something you do miss when you're way from it.''
Throw in Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom, who was a career assistant in the NFL, and that's five schools whose current hire came from the pro ranks.
Saban lasted two years with the Dolphins (15-22) between LSU and taking the Alabama job.
Brooks, after 18 years at Oregon, took over the St. Louis Rams in 1995-96. He also was an assistant eight years with various teams.
"I think you always come out a better coach having been in the NFL,'' Brooks said.
"The atmosphere around college football is a little more celebratory ... a lot more 'up,' if you will.''
Amen, says Spurrier.
Spurrier departed his beloved Florida for the Redskins in 2002 but lasted only two years (12-20). He resurfaced at South Carolina in 2005.
"What happened was we all realized it was a lot more fun coaching in college,'' Spurrier said. "You answer to the president and the athletic director and you very seldom see them unless you're losing too much or breaking the rules.
"The lifestyle is more conducive to a normal, happy person as a college coach.''
Here's what's going on around those normal, happy campuses this spring:
Auburn: The new spread offense is a good fit for quarterback candidate Kodi Burns.
Auburn hired Tony Franklin as offensive coordinator from Troy in time to install the offense before the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
"This new offense really helped Kodi use his athletic ability,'' coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I don't know whether he's going to be the starter but he's going to play a lot.''
Abandoning the West Coast Offense for the spread is a boost for recruiting, Tuberville said:
"It's going to help us in terms of putting a little more speed on the field and it energized a lot of us. We averaged 56 plays a game last year and we ran 93 in the bowl game.''
Florida: Heisman Trophy quarterback Tim Tebow is so integral to the offense, coach Urban Meyer said the challenge is staying one jump ahead of scheming opponents.
"Whether it's adding a fullback or no-huddle or two tight ends, that's the fun part,'' Meyer said. "We're very well aware that (opponents know) to beat Florida you've got to go hit Tim Tebow. We'll be ready.''
Emmanuel Moody, a transfer from USC, looks to be an upgrade for the Gators' running game.
Ole Miss: Escaped from his critics at Arkansas, Houston Nutt has resumed play-calling duties with the Rebels.
Mississippi State: Croom acknowledged the stakes are up with Nutt taking over the Bulldogs' archrival.
"They've got a lot of enthusiasm going up there now,'' Croom said. "We know Houston's track record as a coach and he's a good recruiter.
"I know Houston's going to compete very intensely, but we're up to the challenge.''
South Carolina: The good news is the Gamecocks return 10 defensive starters. The bad news is quarterback is still unsettled.
Blake Mitchell's departure left Chris Smelley as the likely successor but he has yet to put Tommy Beecher out of the picture. Then there's the uncertainty of redshirt freshman Stephen Garcia, who can't stay out of the doghouse for off-the-field issues.
Kentucky: Life after Andre Woodson might be more grounded.
Brooks lists the Wildcats' strengths as a nice stable of tailbacks, a decent offensive line and a mobile quarterback in Curtis Pulley.
Neither Pulley nor Mike Hartline have shown great passing prowess. What's more, the receiving corps was gutted by graduation.
Dicky Lyons is the only receiver back with more than seven catches. Alcoa's Kyrus Lanxter is trying to win a spot in the rotation.
Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276 or email@example.com.