Daron Roberts leaves the Lions to coach at West Virginia

The Detroit Lions have lost an assistant coach to the college ranks.

Bruce Feldman of ESPN reports that Lions assistant Daron Roberts has accepted a position at West Virginia, where he’ll be the special teams coordinator and inside wide receivers coach.

Roberts is still listed as assistant secondary coach on the team’s web site, and he’s been attending pro day workouts to scout college players for the Lions this month. But he’s now on the way out.

Feldman profiled Roberts for ESPN last year, and Feldman wrote then that he expected Roberts to leave the NFL eventually to coach in college. Roberts, who didn’t play football beyond high school, has a background unlike any other coach you’ve ever heard of: He worked for Joe Lieberman and got degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School before deciding he wanted to be a football coach and convincing the Chiefs to take him on, first as a volunteer and then as a quality control coach.

So Roberts is unique among coaches, and his decision to leave the Lions to coach in college is about his personal goals and what he wants to accomplish in coaching.

Still, even if Roberts is unique, he may not be the last coach to leave the NFL for a college job in the next several months. If you’re an assistant coach, college may be a safer bet than the NFL right now: Unlike their NFL brethren, college coaches know that they’re going to be able to coach during the 2011 football season, and don’t have to worry about owners deciding to furlough their coaches if the lockout continues.