While it’s hard to deny that Nick Saban is the gold standard when it comes to coaching in college football, there are plenty of coaches under the age of 45 that are making a name for themselves.
CBS Sports made a list of the top coaches under 45 years old. Most of the coaches on the list have become household names at elite programs, but others had to shine at lower-level conferences before earning recognition.
For example, Neal Brown had to lead Troy to three-straight seasons with at least 10 wins prior to becoming the head coach at West Virginia. Mike Norvell dominated at Memphis before leaving for Florida State.
All the young coaches on this list from CBS deserve a round of applause, but only one could be named the top coach under 45. That honor goes to Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, who is currently 36 years old.
From CBS Sports:
Riley’s rise to coaching superstardom is a credit not only to him but to Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma administration who foresaw this greatness. When handed the job in June 2017, Riley had a relationship with Baker Mayfield but little on his resume that would suggest he’d be atop this list in such a short period. In three seasons, there have been three Big 12 titles and three CFP berths. Half of Riley’s six losses have come in the semifinals. There is no sign things will slow down anytime soon. Why should they? For the first time in his career, Riley will have a quarterback he recruited and developed.
Riley had large shoes to fill at Oklahoma, especially since Bob Stoops is such a beloved figure in Norman.
Since taking over for Stoops, Riley has taken the Sooners to the College Football Playoff on three separate occasions. In three years as the head coach he owns a 36-6 record.
Kirby Smart and Ryan Day are ranked second and third on this list from CBS, respectively.