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Is "He's too young" really valid?

In the coming weeks and months a new crop of assistant coaches should have the opportunity to become first-time head coaches. A group of successful assistant coaches that could graduate to head coaching positions in the not-too-distant future includes Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart (36), Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (41), Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell (39), Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman (37), Ohio State defensive line coach Mike Vrabel (37), Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris (43), Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich (39), Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin (35), Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury (33) and Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown (31). Jason Gesser (33), the interim head coach at Idaho, is also in close proximity to a full-time head coaching job.

The problem with those names, according to some, is that they're too young. As in "not old enough to run for president" young in some cases. 

But the question we have at FootballScoop is, is age really a valid concern?

Over the weekend we took a look at the youngest FBS head coaches, and our results indicate that the 40-and-under crowd is winning in a big way.

Head coach Age School Record
Matt Campbell 32 Toledo 8-1
Willie Taggart 36 Western Kentucky 6-3
Justin Fuente 36 Memphis 1-8
Lane Kiffin 37 USC 6-3
Pat Fitzgerald 37 Northwestern 7-2
Steve Sarkisian 38 Washington 5-4
Garrick McGee 39 UAB 2-7
David Shaw 40 Stanford 7-2
Dave Doeren 40 Northern Illinois 9-1
James Franklin 40 Vanderbilt 5-4
Dan Mullen 40 Mississippi State 7-2
Tony Levine 40 Houston 4-5

Overall, that group is 67-42 (.615) this season. If you consider that Fuente and McGee are in their first seasons in situations where Vince Lombardi would struggle to win, the record improves to a stellar 64-27 (.703). 

Expand the criteria to coaches in their early-40's and the youth movement looks even stronger.

Head coach Age School Record
Will Muschamp 41 Florida 8-1
Kyle Flood 41 Rutgers 7-1
Dana Holgorsen 41 West Virginia 5-3
Pete Lembo 42 Ball State 6-3
Mario Cristobal 42 Florida International 1-8
Sonny Dykes 42 Louisiana Tech 8-1
Dabo Swinney 42 Clemson 8-1
Bill O'Brien 43 Penn State 6-3

As a whole, this group is 49-21 (.700). Coupled with the group above and young head coaches enjoy a composite 116-63 (.648) record. 

In college football, winning begins with recruiting better players than your opponent. With that in mind, imagine you are a 16-year-old recruit. Who are you more likely to relate to, a 35-year-old coach or a 65-year-old coach?

The success of young head coaches are having so early in their careers has to be making athletic directors across the country asking themselves if youth is really a bad thing. 

 

Author: Zach Barnett
Zach Barnett is a native of Denton, Texas and a graduate of the University of Texas. He joined FootballScoop in 2012 after two years at the National Football Foundation. His hobbies include watching college football, reading about college football and writing about college football.