College football coaches - the anti-AARP club

Back in November we asked the question, "'Is he's too young' really valid?" With the vast majority of the major openings in college football filled, the answer is a resounding "No."

Take a look at number of coaches that joined the under-40 club among FBS head coaches: P.J. Fleck (32), Kliff Kingsbury (33), Bryan Harsin (35), Matt Rhule (37), Brian Polian (38), Mark Helfrich (39) and Matt Wells (39).

Additionally, Willie Taggart got his second head coaching job at age 36 when he was hired by South Florida on Dec. 9, and three more schools (Arkansas, Southern Miss and N.C. State) got significantly younger with the hirings of Bret Bielema, Todd Monken and Dave Doeren, respectively.

When we asked the foremost expert on succeeding as a young head coach, Pat Fitzgerald, who was just 31 when he took over at Northwestern and is still only 38, he said, "Age is just a number. It's something that's out of your control. I think what's more important is the evaluation of the coach as a leader and as someone that's the right fit for your program."

Age may be just a number, but those numbers are growing smaller and smaller within the ranks of coordinators and assistant coaches. Kingsbury's replacement at Texas A&M, Jake Spavital, is just 27. Kingsbury's co-offensive coordinators at his new job, Sonny Cumbie and Eric Morris, are 31 and 27, respectively, and his co-defensive coordinator, Mike Smith, is 31. Oklahoma State's new wide receivers coach, Jason Ray, has yet to see his 30th birthday.

These are but a few examples, but the lesson is clear: enthusiasm and energy are in, and knowledge of how to work a rotary phone is out. 

With the fear of hiring an under-40 head coaching becoming more and more a thing of the past, look for our feature "Is He's Too Old' Really Valid?" this coming November and "Is Hiring a 22-Year-Old Head Coach Really Wise?" in the not-too-distant future. 



In case you missed it: news and top stories from the week

Just in case you don't spend every waking moment on Twitter and FootballScoop (and if not, where have you been?), we've corralled our top five stories of the week, as well as some of smaller bits of non-coaching news around the college football world that may have slipped through the cracks.

- The Big Ten is openly looking to switch up its bowl line-up between now and December. Expect the Pinstripe Bowl and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to join the rotation. 

- The Big Ten may also play neutral-site conference games in the upcoming future. 

- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in November that the conference was "inactive but alert" after the additions of Rutgers and Maryland in November. But Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee said in December that the league's expansion talks were "ongoing"

- In non-Big Ten news, the Mountain West announced its divisional alignment when the league moves to 12 teams this fall. In a move that actually makes sense, the divisions will be called "Mountain" and "West".

- Conference USA also announced its divisional alignment and 2013 conference opponents this week. 

- Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby stated Friday the league is exploring an alliance with the ACC and two other unspecified leagues.

- Kentucky president Eli Capilouto has asked Wildcats fans to turn to an alternate source to get funding for UK's facilities improvements. 

- Central Florida and Penn State will play a home-and-home in 2013-14. 

- Troy and Duke will also play a home-and-home in 2013-14.

- Syracuse, Wake Forest, Missouri and the entire Sun Belt are in need of non-conference games for 2013.

- The Pro Bowl uniforms were released Friday and they are surprisingly restrained. 

Shameless Self-Promotion; or, Our Top Five Stories of the Week:

- The details of Charlie Strong's contract were released this week, and this much is clear: he has a really good agent.

- The NCAA passed some pretty comprehensive changes to its recruiting regulations last week. And by comprehensive changes, we mean they deleted them. We talked to someone whose job will be changed significantly by these changes about how exactly his life is about to change

- Exactly how valuable is college football on TV? Nielsen released some research from the 2012 season, and the answer is in: much more valuable than you think.

- Tulsa GA Zak Bigelow dived pretty deeply into college football statistics and has come up with some fresh ways to analyze the game. We discussed his most recent study here.

- Johnny Football got together with some trick shot artists, and the results were fantastic


PHOTOS: Western Michigan getting new helmets

As is so often the case, a new head coach brings a new look. And with P.J. Fleck taking over in Kalamazoo, Western Michigan will wear new helmets next season. 

From the University:

Western Michigan football unveiled a new helmet logo for 2013 combining new age swag with old school tradition.

WMU is adopting a new look for the upcoming fall with an all brown Bronco logo that wraps around the traditional gold helmet with the logo starting above the all brown facemask on the right side (when looking at the helmet head on), wrapping back to the center bottom of the helmet.

One the left side will be the player's number, which will stand alone.  This helmet will be the primary helmet for the Broncos moving forward and will be worn with almost all uniform combinations.

Row the Boat.

What do you think?



Greg Robinson wouldn't change anything about his time at Michigan

With over a decade of NFL experience as a defensive assistant and coordinator, and a disappointing two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Michigan during the Rich Rodriguez era, Greg Robinson can reflect back on his experience in Ann Arbor (2009 and 2010) with no regrets.

Asked if he would go back and do anything differently, Robinson told MLive.com that he doesn't think in those terms.

"You just can’t live like that. That obviously was a disappointing time for me, nothing really went right. But would I do something different? No. I have a great love for Michigan, and I hope nothing but the best for them. They’re doing terrific things right now. I wish things would have turned out differently when I was there, but hindsight is always 20/20."

According to the article, Robinson is now traveling 80 miles round trip and volunteering at a Los Angeles area high school, working under a former teammate and loving every minute of it. He is also doing some radio appearances, including the Senior Bowl this week for Sirius XM.

Robinson says that Michigan will always hold a special place in his mind, and that running the 3-3-5  in 2010 with no prior experience in the scheme was a difficult situation but he can honestly look back with no regrets.

It's refreshing to see a coach with so much experience (14 years as an NFL assistant, four seasons as the head coach at Syracuse, and plenty of college experience as an assistant) being able to reflect on a rough patch in their career with a positive outlook. Robinson is currently hoping to end up back in the league as a defensive assistant.

The amazing story of Wofford's staff continuity

Yesterday we posted an article on Mark Helfrich's first week as the head coach at Oregon and the continuity he inherits on the coaching staff. Helfrich is now the leader of a staff that boasts six coaches with more than a decade deposited in Eugene.

That has to be a high across Division I, right? Actually, Wofford's staff continuity makes even Oregon look like a brand new staff.

Start with head coach Mike Ayers, who recently completed his 25th season at Wofford. Then Wade Lang, who Ayers brought with him in 1988 to be the Terriers' running backs coach. Lang was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1990 and has occupied that position ever since.

Nate Woody recently completed 22 years on staff, the last dozen as defensive coordinator, before departing for Appalachian State. His replacement, Jack Teachey, is in his 20th season on the staff. Offensive line coach Eric Nash has spent 10 years at Wofford.

Those coaches' tenures pail in comparison to that of Joe Lesesne, who has spent 48 years on campus, the last eight of which as director of football operations. Lesesne started at Wofford as an assistant history professor in 1964, then in various administrative roles before being promoted to the President of Wofford College, a post he held from 1972-2000. Lesesne served as an assistant coach from 1965-68, and then again after retiring as Wofford president from 2001-04. He became the Terriers' director of football operations after the 2004 season.

Of course, this type of contunity is only possible because Wofford wins. After all, the Terriers have experienced 18 winning seasons in Ayers' 25 years as head coach.

Or, perhaps, Wofford wins because of its staff continuity. Of the seven non-winning seasons during Ayers' tenure, only one has occurred in the past decade. After winning nine or more games two times from 1988-2001, Wofford has posted six such seasons from 2002-2012. Along the way, the Terriers have been able to establish a definitive identity, ranking first or second in FCS rushing rankings every year since 2007 (since the NCAA began putting FCS statistical rankings online). 

Either way, Wofford has accomplished something that most other staffs, even Oregon, can only dream of. 


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