by Matt Kupec
March 25, 2019
Southern Illinois University Director of Athletics Jerry Kill recently made a great hire by bringing former SIU basketball standout Bryan Mullen back to Carbondale as the Salukis new head basketball coach. Coach Mullen has been a top assistant for the Loyola Chicago basketball program over the last four years and should return the Salukis back to the hierarchy of college basketball.
At thirty-two years old, Mullen becomes one of the youngest head coaches in Division I basketball. In addition to Coach Mullen, the SIU football coach Nick Hill is just 33 years old. Combined these two head coaches total just 65 years in age!
Is this unusual to have such young coaches or is this consistent with trends in the coaching field?
Immediately I thought about my alma mater UNC with 67 year-old football coach Mack Brown, and 68 year-old basketball coach Roy Williams. Heck, the two SIU coaches combined together are younger than EITHER Coach Brown or Coach Williams!! But also remember that Coach Brown was 32 years old when hired as Appalachian State University’s football coach. Coach Williams was 38 years old when Kansas made the former UNC assistant its head basketball coach. Neither of the Hall of Fame coaches started head coaching careers at UNC but both have had remarkable success in Chapel Hill
But even at UNC, young coaches have been hired in the past. Bill Dooley, who was my UNC college coach in the late 1970’s, was hired in 1967 at the tender age of 33 years old. The basketball coach at the time was “ancient” 37 year- old Dean Smith who had been hired six years earlier at the even younger age of 30 years old. So, UNC has had mix of young and old over its history.
So, is it the trend to hire young coaches? In this blog post, we have started our research by looking at the current crop of football and basketball coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Subsequent posts will provide analysis of all the other major conferences. Of note is that the ACC has last legendary seasoned coaches Rick Pitino (66), Mark Richt (60), Paul Johnson (61), and Bobby Petrino (58) in the last year.
Here’s what we found:
- Age of ACC Football and Basketball Coaches
|Atlantic Coast Conference: Ages of Football & Basketball Head Coaches|
|Duke||David Cutcliffe||64||Mike Krzyzewski||72||68.0|
|North Carolina||Mack Brown||67||Roy Williams||68||67.5|
|Syracuse||Din Barber||57||Jim Boeheim||74||65.5|
|Notre Dame||Brian Kelly||57||Mike Brey||60||58.5|
|Miami||Manny Diaz||45||Jim Larranaga||69||57.0|
|Boston College||Steve Addazio||59||Jim Christian||54||56.5|
|Florida St.||Willie Taggart||42||Leonard Hamilton||70||56.0|
|Wake Forest||Dave Clawson||51||Danny Manning||52||51.5|
|Virginia||Bronco Mendenhall||53||Tony Bennett||49||51.0|
|Clemson||Dabo Swinney||49||Brad Brownell||50||49.5|
|Pittsburgh||Pat Narduzzi||53||Jeff Capel||44||48.5|
|Louisville||Scott Satterfield||45||Chris Mack||49||47.0|
|NC State||Dave Doeren||47||Kevin Keatts||46||46.5|
|Georgia Tech||Geoff Collins||47||Josh Pastner||41||44.0|
|Virginia Tech||Justin Fuente||41||Buzz Williams||46||43.5|
- A Look at the Coaches by Descending Age
|> 70 years||Jim Boeheim||74||Syracuse||Basketball|
|Leonard Hamilton||70||Florida St.||Basketball|
|Between 60-69 Years Old||Jim Larranaga||69||Miami||Basketball|
|Roy Williams||68||North Carolina||Basketball|
|Mack Brown||67||North Carolina||Football|
|Mike Brey||60||Notre Dame||Basketball|
|Between 50-59 Years Old||Steve Addazio||59||Boston College||Football|
|Brian Kelly||57||Notre Dame||Football|
|Jim Christian||54||Boston College||Basketball|
|Danny Manning||52||Wake Forest||Basketball|
|Dave Clawson||51||Wake Forest||Football|
|< 50 years old||Dabo Swinney||49||Clemson||Football|
|Dave Doeren||47||NC State||Football|
|Geoff Collins||47||Georgia Tech||Football|
|Kevin Keatts||46||NC State||Basketball|
|Buzz Williams||46||Virginia Tech||Basketball|
|Willie Taggart||42||Florida St.||Football|
|Justin Fuente||41||Virginia Tech||Football|
|Josh Pastner||41||Georgia Tech||Basketball|
- There really isn’t a “right” age that works for when Directors of Athletics are making head coaching decisions. Some of the coaching legends like were hired at very young ages. Mike Krzyzewski was 33 years old when he started at Duke and Jim Boeheim was 32 years old when he was tapped to replace Roy Danforth as head coach at Syracuse.
- The five oldest head coaches in the ACC are all basketball coaches – Boehim at Syracuse, Krzyzewski at Duke, Hamilton at Florida St., Larranaga at Miami and Williams at UNC. Mack Brown of UNC is the oldest football coach at 67 years old.
- Thirteen of the thirty (43%) ACC coaches are between 40 and 40 years old.
- There are no current ACC head coaches younger than forty years old.