Missouri's Eberflus could be headed to NFL

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Several newspapers are reporting that Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus could be the next coach to leave Gary Pinkel's staff.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Friday that new Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini is close to hiring Eberflus as his new linebackers coach.

It would be a significant departure for Missouri for a couple of reasons. First, it would represent the second coordinator to leave the Tigers' program since the end of the regular season. Dave Christensen left for the head-coaching position at Wyoming.

These transitions are a little new for Gary Pinkel, who until this offseason had managed to keep his staff together during his entire eight-season tenure coaching the Tigers.

The timing also is bad for the Tigers, who begin spring practice on March 10.

But Dave Matter's blog for the Columbia Daily Tribune indicates that Pinkel has already mobilized in case the position in open.

Sources told Matter that Pinkel would promote linebackers coach Dave Steckel to replace Eberflus. And Missouri director of football operations Barry Odom would begin coaching the Tigers' safeties, a position that Eberflus currently coaches.

It will be a loss from a continuity standpoint. But I'm wondering if Pinkel might consider hiring a coordinator from outside his program to bring some fresh ideas to his program.

The Tigers have won back-to-back North Division titles, but have been overmatched against the Texas-Oklahoma power elite at the top of the conference. And whoever takes the job would be facing a challenge as he attempts to replace standouts like Stryker Sulak, William Moore, Tommy Chavis and Ziggy Hood.

People are talking about the huge transition that Missouri will be facing in replacing Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman with the offense.

But I'm thinking the defensive transition could be almost as daunting, particularly with a new coordinator.