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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. 


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


No games

High School:

No games

The video you have to see: Chuck Pagano in the Colts' locker room

The Indianapolis Colts beat the Miami Dolphins 23-20 Sunday afternoon. That was the trivial news to break out of Lucas Oil Stadium today. In far more important matters, Chuck Pagano, the Colts' first-year head coach currently on a leave of absence as he fights leukemia, returned to watch his team play.

After the win, Pagano addressed the team in what will undoubtedly be the most emotional post-game speech in the 2012 football season.

"My vision that I'm living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then host that Lombardi Trophy several times."

Every other great post-game locker room speech is now jockeying for 2nd place. 


Kentucky announces coaching change, Joker Phillips issues statement

Early Sunday afternoon, Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart announced that the school would make a change in its coaching staff at the conclusion of the season.

"After much conversation, evaluation and prayer, I have determined that it is in the best interest of our athletics program to make a change in our football coaching staff at the conclusion of the season," Barnhart wrote. "I do so with a heavy heart for a man who has served his alma mater for almost 22 years as a player and a coach Joker Phillips has carried the banner for the Blue and White with honor and pride. I have enjoyed working alongside him and am thankful for his friendship for the last decade. His concern for the entire program, his work and teaching of young people, his humanitarian work, and the friendship we all enjoy with him will long surpass the scoreboard. I want to thank him for all of those things on behalf of Kentucky.

The search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be managed internally. I understand the challenge and significance of finding a new leader for our football program. It will be done with great concern for our student-athletes, students of the University of Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC.

"The search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be managed internally," Barnhart continued. "I understand the challenge and significance of finding a new leader for our football program. It will be done with great concern for our student-athletes, students of the University of Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC."

Later Sunday afternoon, Phillips issued a statement of his own.

"I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here," wrote Phillips. "Mitch is the best athletic director I've ever been associated with.  He's fair and honest and he's "all in" in terms of student-athletes' well-being.  Rich is the best mentor a young coach could ever have.  I learned a lot from him in terms of plowing ahead.  They are dear friends.   Dr. Lee Todd and Dr. Eli Capilouto have both been very supportive.  I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward."

Pure class by Phillips in a very difficult time. 

Coaches of the Week - Week 10

Plenty of coaches across the nation did outstanding jobs in preparing their teams to play, but the group below shined above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week for Week 10 of the college football season. 

Head Coach of the Week - Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana - Lafayette: Hudspeth's team became the first squad outside the Big 12 and SEC to defeat ULM with a 40-24 win on Saturday, snapping a two-game losing streak to their intrastate rivals. The 24 points was a season-low for the Warhawks, while the Ragin' Cajuns became the first Sun Belt team to drop 40 points on ULM in regulation since 2009. Quarterback Terrance Broadway was an efficient 23-of-32 for 373 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, while Hudsepth's team controlled the line of scrimmage by out-rushing ULM 234-74. The win moved ULL one victory away from a second straight bowl berth and just one game back of first place in the Sun Belt. 

Offensive Staff of the Week - LSU: Credit must be given to Oregon for putting up school records (and USC opponent records) with 62 points and 730 yards, but this week we recognize the work of Greg Studrawa and LSU's offensive coaches. The Tigers offense outperformed even the loftiest expectations against college football's top total, scoring, passing and pass efficiency defense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger played his best game as a collegian, connecting on 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Running back Jeremy Hill became just the fifth opponent in Nick Saban's tenure at Alabama to run for 100 yards against the Crimson Tide (29 carries, 107 yards, one touchdown). The Tigers moved the ball consistently on Alabama by refusing to leave the field. They were successful on 10-of-20 third downs and ran 85 plays, which adds up to 39:15 time of possession, allowing the Tigers to penetrate for two touchdowns and three field goal attempts. 

Defensive Staff of the Week - UCLA: One week after slicing and dicing the USC defense to the tune of 588 yards and 39 points, the Arizona offense compiled just 257 yards and 10 points in a 66-10 shellacking by UCLA. The Bruins held the Pac-12's leading passer Matt Scott to a season-low 124 yards on 15-of-25 attempts. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos' unit limited Arizona to 3-of-14 on third down, a season-worst 18 first downs, recovered three fumbles and forced seven punts. It did not surrender a touchdown until midway through the third quarter with the Bruins nursing a 42-point lead. The UCLA coaching staff decided to wear war paint on the sidelines and if Saturday's results are any indication, Bruins football just got itself a new tradition. 

Special Teams Unit of the Week - San Diego State: Special teams keyed a historic win for San DIego State on Saturday night, 21-19 over Boise State. In defeating Boise State 21-19 on Saturday night, the Aztecs earned the program's first win over an AP top 20 team away from home. Colin Lockett opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That play stood as San Diego State's only offense until Dwayne Garrett blocked a punt in Broncos territory and returned it to the 8-yard line. Two plays later, San Diego State had its second touchdown of the day and a lead it would not relinquish. 

Call of the Week - Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian, Cincinnati: A few weeks ago in this space we promised that any time a coach goes for two and the win late in a game would receive automatic Call of the Week honors, so respect must be given to Gary Patterson and TCU for doing just that in their 39-38 win in double overtime at West Virginia. But this award goes to head coach Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian for doing what no staff has done - calling a jump pass in the middle of the field. Jump passes entered national consciousness with Tim Tebow at Florida in 2006, and we've even seen some running backs execute the play in recent years but the play had exclusively been used as a goal line tactic until Saturday. Trailing Syracuse 10-7 and facing a 4th and 2, Cincinnati opened the second quarter with a simple hand off to tailback George Winn. As Winn approached the line of scrimmage he sprung in the air and found Travis Kelce all alone behind the defense for a 37-yard touchdown. Cincinnati would go on to defeat Syracuse, 35-24.