Assistant coaches eyeing college opportunities

With labor uncertainty looming for the NFL in 2011, this year’s coaching carousel is expected to feature assistant coaches taking a long look at opportunities available at the college level.

Apart from the pension-plan controversy that dominated discussion for much of the 2009 offseason, assistant coaches generally fear that owners will lock out players after the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires.

For a lockout imposed in early 2011, the players lose little because their base salaries aren’t paid until the season starts.  For assistant coaches, however, a lockout means that they face the prospect of not getting paid during the offseason months during which nothing is really happening.

That said, plenty of assistant coaches will be under contract beyond 2009, giving them no choice but to stick around, unless their teams agree to let them leave.

So keep an eye on this dynamic.  It could dilute the quality of NFL staffs for the 2010 season, and possibly beyond.