The NFL is not the place to be. NFL Coaches are choosing to head back to the halls of academia instead. Marc Tracy from the New York Times takes a look at this trend.

N.F.L. Coaches Now Reach for Next Level: College

In the early days of his first season in the N.F.L. as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator, Norm Chow was in a meeting in which, he recalled, coaches and players were bantering with a rookie, chiding him to pay closer attention. When Chow joined in, the rookie, a recent high draft pick, responded that he had a direct line to the owner.

A veteran player approached Chow after the meeting and told him, “Don’t forget it.”

That was professional football, where players can outrank coaches, and ultimately both answer to ownership. Now Chow is in college football, as the head coach at the University of Hawaii, and he knows that life “absolutely does not” work that way. In college, the head coach frequently has more power than the star quarterback, the athletic director, the university president, even the governor.

Harbaugh was 44-19-1 in four regular seasons with the 49ers, and he led them to a Super Bowl. But he and team ownership mutually decided to part ways.

“It’s football, but it’s two different worlds,” said Butch Davis, who has been a head coach in college, at Miami and North Carolina, and in the N.F.L., with the Cleveland Browns.

As college football is ascendant, Harbaugh’s trajectory is increasingly popular. Two of the most accomplished college coaches in recent years, Southern California’s Pete Carroll and Alabama’s Nick Saban, arrived at their programs after unsuccessful stints in the N.F.L. (Carroll is back in the N.F.L., where he won a Super Bowl last season at the helm of the Seattle Seahawks.)