Yes, Matt Campbell is that young. If he makes you feel old then there's a good reason for that. (image via utrockets.com)
That took ... what, four days? Tim Beckman went to Illinois, Matt Campbell was named interim UT head coach, Mike O'Brien announced a national search, and they didn't even need to leave the building.
Less than a week into the process, the University of Toledo is now the employer of the youngest head football coach in FBS: At 32 years old, Campbell has gone from OL coach/offensive coordinator to interim coach to full-time head coach. Memphis hired Justin Fuente as their main guy earlier this month, making him the youngest FBS coach (35) for about, oh, three days.
With Beckman being the defensive brains of the operation (126 points allowed in two weeks notwithstanding), Campbell is being touted as the one who made all the points happen this past season.
And we'll have to see. When you hire someone so quickly, it's typically not out of laziness.
As for his age? 32 is young but UT has a history of hiring young people. Nick Saban, Gary Pinkel and Frank Lauterbur were all in their 30s when made head coaches. They like 'em young, and that's substantial because even they realize that these folk won't be here forever. Pinkel lasted nine years, which is a lifetime in MAC athletics. If Campbell goes according to plan and coaches well for three years, then he'll be gone to somewhere better, and the process can repeat itself.
This is what O'Brien did with Tom Amstutz after Pinkel left, and it had not been for that nasty point-shaving scandal combined with an opportune bad season with which to force a resignation, O'Brien would've been able to continue the process of hiring good young assistant coaches and promoting from within. It's the new MAC coaching model. Look at Kent State basketball. It works. It also keeps the departing coach from usurping the entire coaching staff and taking them to greener pastures.
Beckman had several obstacles this year, and Campbell shared many of them them: the loss of running back Adonis Thomas for about a month; defending the unorthodox (and sometimes critically-panned) use of switching up Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens as quarterback during games; and essentially finding a way to slow down some of those rapid-fire MAC West offenses, not to mention rebounding after tough losses at Ohio State and Syracuse. If he can stand up to tough decisions in perhaps the most visible MAC football team (save for maybe Temple), then he'll do just fine. As will the next person.