Discussion

Top five rising 'program builders'

Updated: September 7, 2012, 11:47 AM ET
By Ryan McGee

When the Florida Gators take the field against the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday in College Station, what most fans will see is a pairing of new SEC rivals and what could be a key early conference game.

But those who make a living within collegiate athletics see much more.

"Those are two coaches who a lot of people have had their eye on for a while," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said this summer. "Certain coaches garner a lot of attention during their time as assistants, and Will Muschamp and Kevin Sumlin are two of those coaches. Now they have the opportunity to lead a pair of great, historic college football programs, and it will be exciting to see them reach their full potential."

Exciting, but only if it works. If it doesn't, well, look out below.

All presidents and athletic directors stand at the same crossroads when they clean house and it comes to hiring a new head coach. Do they go with an older, established boss (see: Mike Leach, Rich Rodriguez, Urban Meyer)? Or do they give one of those younger men, those earmarked early as can't-miss coaching prospects, a shot?

This week's top-5 list focuses on the latter. Who are the five coaches with five or fewer years of head coaching experience viewed as up-and-coming program builders?

I chatted with athletic administrators around the nation to get their takes.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES