The Los Angeles Rams have hired 30 year old Sean McVay, most recently the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, as their head coach. McVay will be the youngest head coach in the history of game. With the track record of young coaches, it appears that McVay will have a difficult time getting the Rams back to respectability. If reports are to be believed, he will need to build a coaching staff that can do a better job of developing quarterbacks, including L.A.'s top pick last year, Jared Goff, who wasn't even active for much of last season. Can a 30 year-old command the kind of respect necessary to manage and motivate 53 professional football players? Recent history would indicate that he probably can't.
Lane Kiffin took over the Oakland Raiders at the age of 31 after a 2 - 14 season. Granted, it was the Raiders, still run by an aging Al Davis who had a propensity for hiring young coaches through the years, including John Madden and Jon Gruden. But Kiffin failed miserably, going 5 - 15 in less than two seasons and has been bouncing around the coaching ranks ever since.
Raheem Morris was tapped to replace Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay following the 2008 season in which the Bucs finished a respectable 9 - 7. Despite taking over a pretty good team, the 32 year-old Morris could only manage one winning season while going 17 - 31 in three years at the helm.
Back in 1993, Cincinnati hoped to get more out of the Shula name by hiring 32 year-old Dave as their head coach. He inherited a team that had gone 3 - 13 the previous season and even though he bettered that record twice in his tenure with the Bengals, he exited with an overall record of 19 - 52 with his best season a mediocre 7 - 9 in 1995.
Another 32 year-old, Josh McDaniels, followed a long tenure by Mike Shanahan in Denver after the fourteen year head coach was fired following an 8 - 8 season. Despite inheriting a decent team, McDaniels was unable to find success and was fired twelve games into his second season after going 3 - 9 for a two year record of 11 - 17. McDaniels has since found success with the New England Patriots as their offensive coordinator and is reported to be in the running for another head coaching opportunity.
Combined, the four previous youngest head coaches had a combined 62 - 115 record, with only one winning season between them in nine full years and three partial seasons. With the recent history of young coaches being so brutally bad, why would the Rams think they can break the mold? Perhaps in this day and age, there's a perception that experience doesn't matter. But that perception clearly doesn't match the stark reality of a 35% winning percentage. The other thing that is interesting is that only one of these coaches was given more than three seasons to turn things around, indicating to me that there could have been other issues in play. Could it have been lack of maturity and leadership? You think?
I'm not advocating some archaic good old boys' network requiring people to "pay their dues" for inclusion in the head coaching fraternity. I'm just saying that the track record of coaches thirty-two and younger is drastically different than those thirty-four and older. Take a look at the next four youngest coaches that took over since 1990.
Jon Gruden at the age 34, now ESPN's Monday Night Football analyst, turned around the Oakland Raiders in 1998 after a 4 - 12 season in 1997. His record was a respectable 38 - 26 before leaving for Tampa Bay, where he won a Super Bowl against his former team in his first season with the Bucs. He won two more NFC South titles in Tampa before getting fired and finding his way to the broadcast booth.
When Chuck Noll retired in 1992, the Pittsburgh Steelers brought in 34 year-old Bill Cowher to add new life to a team that went 7 - 9 in 1991. Did he ever, winning five division crowns in his first six seasons and getting to the Super Bowl following the 1995 campaign, losing to the Dallas Cowboys. Cowher retired after fifteen seasons, compiling an impressive 149 - 90 -1 record and winning Super Bowl XL.
Coincidentally, Cowher was succeeded by another 34 year-old, current Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin. All Tomlin has done is go 104 - 57 with a Super Bowl title and no losing seasons. Pittsburgh takes on Kansas City this weekend, with the Patriots looming in the AFC title game.
Also at the age of 34, Eric Mangini inherited a 4 - 12 Jets team in 2006 and went 10 -6 in his first season in New York (well, New Jersey technically, but...). He lasted three years and compiled a respectable 23 - 25 record while adding another winning record.
So the contrast is rather dramatic, although it could be argued that the Steelers are one of the top organizations in the league, which gives Cowher and Tomlin a bit of an edge. But the sample size here is large enough to offer up what seems to be a clear differentiation between thirty-two and younger versus thirty-four and older. Which leads me predict that unless something radically changes in Los Angeles, we're likely to see Sean McVay back in the press box calling plays for another team in a two or three years.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.