NCAA Baseball

25 Youngest Coaches in Division 1 College Baseball


After last week spotlighting the winningest active coaches in college baseball, we this week turn to the opposite end of the spectrum and focus on the youngest coaches in Division I.

These coaches represent the newest generation of college baseball coaches and are all no older than 35 years old. While some have yet to coach a Division I game, others already have conference titles on their resumes and a quartet of them led their teams to the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

College baseball has a long history of coaches getting hired young — Rod Dedeaux was 28 when he took over Southern California and Ron Fraser and Augie Garrido were 30 when they got their first head coaching jobs — but it isn’t as common today for head coaches to be in their 30s.

This group is carrying on that tradition, however, and broke into the business early. They may be young, but they’re already showing what they have to offer.

  1. Kyle Hallock, Bowling Green State (32 years)

Hallock just took over for longtime coach Danny Schmitz this offseason under unique circumstances. After the Bowling Green program was briefly cut and then resurrected, Schmitz moved to a new role within the athletic department, and Hallock was promoted, making him the youngest head coach in college baseball.

  1. Andy Pascoe, Western Illinois (32.1 years)

Pascoe was the youngest coach in the country last season, after taking over WIU last September. His run as the youngest in the game was brief, as Hallock now edges him out. Pascoe was an assistant at Butler and Evansville, his alma mater, before taking over the Leathernecks.

  1. Paul Panik, Iona (32.2 years)

For a young coach, Panik came into his role at Iona with a lot of varied experience as an assistant. After finishing his playing career at Canisius in 2010, Panik was an assistant at Division III Western Connecticut State, Butler, Niagara, Canisius, Iona and Albany before taking over as the head coach at Iona for the 2019 season.

  1. Aaron Meade, Tarleton State (32.3 years)

Meade just now qualifies for this list, as Tarleton State is this year moving from Division II to the WAC. A pitcher at Missouri State from 2007-2010, Meade spent several years as an assistant at Division II Pittsburg State before taking over at Tarleton State last year.

  1. Blake Dean, New Orleans (32.5 years)

It’s notable that not only is Dean the fourth-youngest coach on the list, but he’s been at the helm at New Orleans since the start of the 2016 season, when he was just 27 years old. In his tenure at UNO, Dean has turned the Privateers into a competitive team within the confines of the Southland.

  1. Alex Sogard, Wright State (33.1 years)

Wright State’s last three coaches — Greg Lovelady, Jeff Mercer and Sogard — have all been hired very young. It hasn’t done anything to slow the Raiders down, as all three have won plenty of games in the role. In 2019, Sogard’s first season in the role, WSU went 41-15 overall and 21-8 in Horizon League play.

  1. Rob Vaughn, Maryland (33.2 years)

The youngest coach leading a major conference program, Vaughn is like Dean in that he has been at the helm longer than one might assume for a coach his age, having taken over prior to the 2018 season. Vaughn has a very talented Terrapins team on his hands for the 2021 season.

  1. Tim Reilly, Lafayette (33.3 years)

Reilly was just named to this post in March, following the retirement of longtime coach Joe Kinney. Reilly had been an assistant to Kinney for three seasons after spending six seasons as an assistant at Rutgers, where he also played for legendary coach Fred Hill.

  1. Ben Orloff, UC Irvine (33.4 years)

The 2009 Brooks Wallace Award winner as the nation’s top shortstop while playing at UCI, Orloff joined the Anteaters coaching staff ahead of the 2016 season. After Mike Gillespie’s retirement in 2018, Orloff took the reins and led UCI to a 37-17 season in 2019.

  1. Evan Porter, Nebraska-Omaha (33.5 years)

The first coach on this list who has led his team to a regional, Porter guided the Mavericks to the 2019 Summit League regular season and tournament titles, ending Oral Roberts’ monopoly on both prizes for the time being. Porter took over the program after several seasons as an assistant and a lengthy career overseas.

  1. Ryan Jenkins, Tennessee-Martin (33.6 years)

A catcher for Auburn from 2006-2010 and in the Royals system from 2010-2012, Jenkins spent one season as an assistant at College of Charleston in 2017 before joining the UT-Martin staff and being named interim coach of the Skyhawks later that year. In April 2018, the interim tag was removed from his title.

  1. Billy O’Conner, Xavier (33.7 years)

O’Conner was named head coach at Xavier in June 2017 after spending four seasons as an assistant in the program under Scott Googins. He led the Musketeers to a second-place finish in the Big East in 2019, his second year at the helm.

  1. Eric Roof, Eastern Michigan (33.8 years)

A Michigan State alum whose first coaching stop was as a volunteer assistant with the Spartans, Roof has been the head coach at EMU since the 2018 season, when he was in the role on an interim basis after three seasons spent as an assistant in the program. At the end of the 2018 season, the interim tag was removed.

  1. Nick Barese, Merrimack (33.8 years)

The coach tasked with helping Merrimack transition up to Division I for the 2020 season, Barese has been the Warriors’ head coach since the 2015 season. Like many others on this list, his tenure began as an interim head coach before proving to be the right fit moving forward. Prior to the move to Division I, Barese led Merrimack to a Division II regional in 2018.

  1. Jordon Banfield, Oakland (33.9 years)

Banfield in May was named head coach at Oakland and brings with him a varied resume. It includes time coaching at the high school level, and more recently, as an assistant at Illinois-Springfield, Texas-Rio Grande Valley and Akron, where he was a part of the staff Chris Sabo put together to relaunch the program.

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16. Ed Kahovec, Holy Cross (34.4 years)

Like Reilly, Kahovec was named the head coach this spring after the previous coach stepped aside. In this case, he took over for Greg DiCenzo, who departed for a coaching opportunity in pro baseball. Though he’s young, this is not Kahovec’s first head coaching job, as he was also the head coach at Division III Bard (N.Y.) before joining the Holy Cross staff in 2017.

  1. John Delaney, Quinnipiac (34.7 years)

A player at Quinnipiac from 2005-2008, Delaney became the head coach at his alma mater ahead of the 2015 season after one-year stops as an assistant at Sacred Heart and Hartford. In 2019, he led the Bobcats to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005.

  1. Dan Bertolini, Youngstown State (34.9 years)

Prior to coming to Youngstown State, Bertolini coached at Mercyhurst North East (Pa.) JC, where he also spent some time as an assistant basketball coach. He has spent the last four seasons with the Penguins and might have had his best YSU team in 2020 before the season was shut down.

  1. Dan Pirillo, Long Island (34.9 years)

After beginning his coaching career as an assistant at what was then known as LIU-Brooklyn, Pirollo spent time as an assistant at Georgia College and Chicago State before returning as head coach of LIU-Brooklyn ahead of the 2017 season. SInce then, he has led the team to a 2018 NCAA Tournament appearance and through LIU-Brooklyn’s merger with LIU-Post for athletics, creating the LIU Sharks.

  1. Nick Derba, Maine (34.9 years)

Before becoming the head coach at Maine, Derba spent 2014-2016 as an assistant under Steve Trimper with the Black Bears. Prior to that, he spent the 2013 season as an assistant at his alma mater, Manhattan, spent time coaching with Chatham in the Cape Cod League and spent 2010-2011 as an assistant at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

  1. Lance Rhodes, Southern Illinois (35 years)

One of the most accomplished assistant coaches on this list, Rhodes spent a majority of his time as an assistant working under Steve Bieser. From 2013-2016, he did so at Southeast Missouri State, where he helped lead the Redhawks to a regional in 2016, and from 2017-2019, he was on staff at Missouri. His first season at SIU was off to a promising start before things were shut down.

  1. Jeff Mercer, Indiana (35.1 years)

Mercer has the fullest head coaching resume of anyone on this list. In 2018, as the head coach at Wright State, he led the Raiders to a Horizon League regular-season title and a regional appearance. At Indiana, the Hoosiers won the Big Ten regular-season title and secured a postseason appearance in his first season on the job.

  1. Jonathan Hernandez, Bethune-Cookman (35.1 years)

Before taking over from Jason Beverlin at Bethune-Cookman and becoming a young head coach at the Division I level, Hernandez was a young head coach at the junior college level with ASA Miami, a post he held from 2014-2018. Prior to that, Hernandez had several stops coaching at the high school level in the Miami area.

  1. Kevin Mulvey, Villanova (35.3 years)

A pitcher in the big leagues for the Twins and Diamondbacks in 2009 and 2010, Mulvey moved quickly from the playing field to the dugout as an assistant at Villanova, his alma mater, in 2013. At the end of the 2016 season, Mulvey was elevated to head coach.

  1. Dan Skirka, Murray State (35.3 years)

Skirka returned to Murray State to become head coach ahead of the 2019 season. He had previously been an assistant for the Racers from 2010-2014. From 2015-2018, he was an assistant at junior college power Walters State (Tenn.) JC.

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