In the recent past, schools have preferred to seek up-and-coming coaches, such as P.J. Fleck or Tom Herman when they need a new head football coach instead of looking for veteran coaches with a proven track record like Les Miles. Last season, FBS schools recorded the youngest average age (43.2 years old) of head coaches signed up by various teams in the last six years.
Out of 26 hired coaches, eight of them had not attained the age of 40 at the time of employment. In the 2010 and 2011 season, FBS schools hired 48 coaches with an average age of 47, with eight of them under 40 years of age. This trend should help the teams reach their goals and at the same time, should move around the college football odds for most major games that are left in the season.
Various FBS schools have unique needs and those hiring coaches for them defy trends to pounce on the right employee in the market. Currently, the market favors young coaches, such as the 35-year-old Fleck of Western Michigan and the 41-year-old Herman of Houston, while overlooking veteran coaches like the 62-year-old Miles. The ex-LSU coach completed almost a dozen seasons with Tigers and won 77 percent of his games to clinch a national title before his September sacking.
As stated by the vice president and managing director of sports for Parker Executive Search, Daniel Parker, signing up a coach with a long resume is not deal today compared to a young energetic one. Young coaches have the tenacity to overhaul the entire program by recruiting the best players who can work hard and engage fans accordingly, Parker said.
According to Miles, he has a maximum of a dozen years left for him to coach. He was fired because of an outdated offense, but he told Sports Illustrated last week that he can change his philosophies. However, very few teams have an interest in him for now. Between 2010 and 2011, FBS teams hired four coaches who were at least 60-years-old. Furthermore, Nebraska coach Mike Riley was the only coach hired in 2014 who was over 60.
When Mack Brown was fired from Texas in 2013, he was 62-years-old. Furthermore, he is a potential Hall of Famer, but he went 30-21 with the Longhorns to dwarf his sequence of nine consecutive double-digit season wins as well as a national title. Tennessee ex-coaches, for example Brown and Phillip Fulmer, end up with a definition that reflect their losing runs, which got them fired in the end and many fans reject coaches who were rejected by other schools. However, Brown expressed that coaching remains one of his priorities.
Currently, the recruitment process for major college football coaches has turned into an year-round engagement. NCAA reforms has revealed that several schools have constantly offered scholarships to various high school students prior to their senior years. Mike Obrien, Toledo athletic director recollects how one older coach specified that he does not need hiring because he wouldn’t cope with the rigorous all-year-round business of college football.
In the previous hiring cycle, the Power Five schools also had the highest proportion of college assistants and coordinators without an experience in head-coaching since 2010. Out of the 12 Power Five coaching jobs, five assistant who clinched them were more than 43-years-old. Particularly, Georgia hired the 40-year-old Kirby Smart, and the 43-year-old Clay Helton served as an interim coach after being promoted by the USC.
Most programs focus on hiring coaches on a long-term basis. Oklahoma hired defensive coordinator Bob Stoops in 1999 when he was 39-years-old, and Mark Richt had no head coaching experience when Georgia hired him in 2001 at 41 years of age. According to Hughes, the scope of existing programs have become more prominent today, which has led to many complications when hiring coaches. He expressed that hiring an assistant coach with no proven track record using a Power Five high-profile program is a major risk.
As stated by Rick Chryst, the ex-Mid-American Conference commissioner, contracting younger head coaches reflects an urgency for success by schools. The coaches have the potential to be recycled because of the good work they have done previously, he added. However, a losing run for most head coaches is usually difficult to overcome.
Dan Hawkins also weighed on the matter. The ex-Boise and Colorado coach said that an AD tell once talked about brokering hope. The 55-year-old ESPN employees added that hiring a young coach without a long-standing experience keeps the media and fans captivated on his performance.