College football programs are trending toward younger hires

When searching for a new head football coach, schools have been showing a greater desire to hire an up-and-comer, like Tom Herman or P.J. Fleck, rather than a veteran with a long record of success, such as Les Miles.

The average age of the head coaches hired by FBS teams last season was 43.2 years old, the youngest in the past six years. Eight of the 26 new hires were under 40 when they accepted the job.

In 2010 and 2011, the average age of the 48 coaches hired by FBS schools was a touch over 47, including eight under the age of 40.

People in the business of hiring coaches are hesitant to call anything a trend, since each school comes to the marketplace with different needs and criteria. But the current climate favors coaches like Western Michigan's 35-year-old Fleck and Houston's 41-year-old Herman over a potential Hall of Famer such as Miles. The 62-year-old former LSU coach won 77 percent of his games and a national title in 11-plus seasons with the Tigers before being fired in September.

Potential is often more appealing to those hiring a coach than an extensive resume, according to Daniel Parker, the vice president and managing director of sports for Parker Executive Search, based in Atlanta. Parker helps programs identify coaching candidates and hire them.

"Bringing in somebody that's got a lot of energy, that's going to change the program, recruit really well, work really hard, that does something for the fan base. It re-energizes the athletics department. Re-energizes the fans," Parker said.

Miles told Sports Illustrated last week he has "10 or 12 years left in me." An out-of-date offense was a big part of why Miles was ousted, but he says he is willing to change and evolve his philosophies.

Recent history suggests the demand for Miles could be limited.

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