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. 


Would Sean Payton really leave the Saints?

The events of the past 24 hours have many people in the coaching profession (and beyond) asking if Sean Payton would really leave the New Orleans Saints.

Honestly, these days you never really know.

Payton has compiled a 67-37 record since 2006 as a head coach, including a 5-3 mark in the postseason which was highlighted with their 2009 Super Bowl XLIV win, and is very loved amongst the New Orleans and greater Louisiana community for all that he does on an off the field. But that doesn't make him a lock to stick around...crazier things have happened in the coaching profession.

Yesterday, Adam Schefter reported that the contract extension that Sean Payton had apparently signed in September of 2011 was never officially approved by the NFL. So right now it looks like Payton will become a free agent after his suspension is up at the conclusion of the season

Sports Illustrated's Peter King has a great take on the whole situation.

In short, King explains that both Philadelphia and Dallas would be interested if Payton does indeed become available (Payton previously served as an assistant coach with both organizations). The link to the whole article has plenty more quality insight from King.

If we were asked to lay money on the table, we'd still place it on Payton coaching the Saints next year; but in this day and age, who knows. Seeing how ineffective the Saints have been without him, Tom Benson has little choice but to pay up. 

Wins and losses don't always tell the whole story

Coming into this season, D-II Livingstone College had won a total of one game in the previous two years. In 2010, their closest loss was a 13 point loss in their season finale. In 2011 they made significant strides, with three of their losses coming by less than ten points (with one being a three point loss in overtime).

When head coach Elvin James took the job back in December of 2009, the program had the second longest losing streak in the country, and hadn't had a win in front of their home crowd since 2008.

In their first two seasons on campus, the offense ranked last in the conference, and totaled about 1,500 yards each season (1,356  yards in 2010 and 1,177 yards in 2011). In 2010, the team found the end zone just seven times. That number nearly doubled to 13 the next season.

The 2012 season has been a different story, written in a completely different book. The offense has really clicked, accounting for 3,665 yards and 33 touchdowns, while averaging 386 yards per game. Their total yardage this season eclipsed their combined total from the past two seasons. 2012 also marked the first time since 2007 that a running back had over 1,000 all purpose yards (1,073) and four receivers combined for over 140 receptions and 13 touchdowns. 

Livingstone also entered uncharted territory with back to backs wins (by a combined seven points) in weeks four and five of the season. It's also worth mentioning that they're getting all this done with a freshman quarterback under center who has set numerous school records (some that have stood for nearly 50 years).

The Bears have really closed the gap on their competition on the field, and finding a way to win the close games is a mark of a program on the rise. Additionally, the play of their young quarterback and other young players shows that the staff is doing an impressive job evaluating talent and getting them on campus and coaching them up.

While 2-8 doesn't show the results that any coaching staff would like to see, it's evident that Coach James and his staff have laid a solid foundation, and the program should be in great shape moving forward in 2013. 

Keith Patterson: We did fewer things with fewer people

Including their 70-63 shootout win over Baylor back in week four of the season, West Virginia gave up at least 45 points and 400 yards of total offense in four of their next five games. They've dropped their last three straight, but co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson saw some major improvement against TCU Saturday.

After losing in double overtime on Saturday to Gary Patterson and his TCU staff (39-38) when they decided to go for two and the win instead of kicking the extra point to head into triple OT, Mountaineer co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson noted that they made some changes that allowed them to be more sound defensively throughout the game. At halftime Saturday, they had held the Horned Frogs to just seven yards rushing.

"We tried to get guys on the field that we knew we could trust, and guys that have shown that over the past two weeks." Patterson added that they also cut down on coverages a little bit, and put more emphasis on fundamentals like timing up their blitzes during the week.

Patterson noted that their focus now turns to keeping players spirits up and showing them where they have improved and the importance of playing a full sixty minutes. Their remaining schedule of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Kansas leaves no room to overlook anyone.

"You've got to build on the positive. College football has no time to sit and dwell on this one, you have to figure out a way to win next week." he said.

Monday TV - Philly at New Orleans

Philadelphia takes on New Orleans tonight in The Big Easy.

Eastern time listed.


Philadelphia at New Orleans - 8:30 - ESPN


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