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First-time head coaches worth watching

4/15/2015

Earlier in the week, we unveiled the top coaches under 50. The following three coaches are likely to land there in the future, but they're just getting started. Here are three first-time coaches to watch, followed by a list of the rest of the FBS coaches under 50.

1. Pat Narduzzi, Pitt (48)

Narduzzi was the only first-year coach in this cycle to get a Power 5 job, which is increasingly rare. ADs want coaches to cut their teeth elsewhere. That’s especially true for defensive coordinators. Narduzzi, though, looks and feels like an exception. He has long cut the image of a head coach. It was only a matter of time, and he landed in a spot where he’s a snug fit and he’ll have a chance to succeed in the near future.

2. Tom Herman, Houston (39)

Herman is still riding the sugar high of Ohio State’s national title as he embarks on his own head-coaching career. Coaches believe he’s going to be a star the level of his previous boss, Urban Meyer. Herman is smart, funny, unassuming. He told me that, as of five years ago -- when he was Iowa State’s offensive coordinator -- he wasn’t ready to be a head coach. He believes he’s ready now, and a lot of his peers do as well.

3. Chad Morris, SMU (46)

The cupboard is currently pretty bare in North Dallas, but Morris -- and other coaches -- see signs of life and reason for hope. Given the school’s deep pockets and the fertile recruiting turf in the metro area and throughout the state, it shouldn’t take Morris too long to get SMU going again. “This place can be special,” he said this week.

Other FBS coaches under 50 (by conference):

ACC

Al Golden, Miami (45); Dave Clawson, Wake Forest (47); Scott Shafer, Syracuse (48)

American

Willie Taggart, South Florida (38); Matt Rhule, Temple (40); Bob Diaco, UConn (42); Philip Montgomery, Tulsa (43)

Big 12

David Beaty, Kansas (44); Paul Rhoads, Iowa State (48)

Big Ten

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern (40); Kyle Flood, Rutgers (44); Paul Chryst, Wisconsin (49)

Conference USA

Charlie Partridge, Florida Atlantic (41); Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky (43); Sean Kugler, UTEP (48); Todd Monken, Southern Miss (49)

MAC

Matt Campbell, Toledo (35); Rod Carey, Northern Illinois (43); Pete Lembo, Ball State (44); Paul Haynes, Kent State (45); Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan (46); Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio) (47)

Mountain West

Brian Polian, Nevada (40); Mike Bobo, Colorado State (40); Tony Sanchez, UNLV (41); Matt Wells, Utah State (41); Troy Calhoun, Air Force (48); Ron Caragher, San Jose State (48)

Pac-12

Sonny Dykes, Cal (45)

SEC

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (44); Mark Stoops, Kentucky (47)

Sun Belt

Neal Brown, Troy (35); Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State (42); Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette (46); Blake Anderson, Arkansas State (46); Paul Petrino, Idaho (47)

Independents

Jeff Monken, Army (47)