Image credit: Butler coach Blake Beemer (Photo courtesy of Butler)
The last two years have seen significant turnover in the Division I coaching ranks, as more than a quarter of all schools hired new coaches. That means the list of the youngest coaches in the country has also changed a lot since we last published it in 2020.
It’s now time to update the list of coaches who represent the newest generation in the Division I ranks. All 25 coaches are younger than 37 years old, a slight tick up from the group in 2020, when all were no older than 35. Six were newly hired this summer, which also includes seven coaches who have led their teams to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
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. Blake Beemer, Butler (31.5 years): Beemer this June was hired to succeed Dave Schrage, who retired after 34 years as a college head coach. Beemer spent the last four years as an assistant coach at Ball State, his alma mater, and previously coached at Eastern Illinois and Penn State.
2. Elliott Jones, Alabama A&M (31.7 years): Jones was the youngest coach in the country for the last two seasons after being hired in the fall of 2020. In two seasons under Jones, the Bulldogs are 23-55.
3. Conor Burke, Iona (33 years): Burke took over at Iona last summer and this season led the Gaels to a 6-41 record – doubling their win total from a season ago. Prior to taking over at Iona, he coached at Dartmouth and Maine.
4. Manny Roman, Fairleigh-Dickinson (33.3 years): Roman this summer was promoted to head coach after Rob DiToma was hired away by San Francisco. Roman joined the Knights staff prior to the 2022 season, following four years at Monroe (N.Y.) JC.
5. Sam Roberts, Virginia Military Institute (33.5 years): Roberts this summer was promoted to head coach after Jonathan Hadra left VMI to take a job on staff at Old Dominion. Roberts is VMI’s all-time hits leader and has been a part of the coaching staff since the fall of 2016, following the end of his professional career.
6. Lance Ratchford, Marist (33.9 years): Ratchford this August was hired after Chris Tracz was hired away by Army. Ratchford spent three season on staff at Marist before he was hired as head coach at SUNY-Cobleskill in Division III. He spent four seasons there, leading the Fighting Tigers to back-to-back first-place finishes.
7. Alex Guerra, Radford (33.9 years): Guerra, a Radford alumnus, was hired this June to replace Karl Kuhn. Guerra was an assistant coach for seven seasons at James Madison. Prior to that, he was on staff at Radford and Central Florida.
8. Kyle Hallock, Bowling Green State (34 years): Hallock took over at Bowling Green in 2020 following the reversal of the decision to cut the program. He has led the Falcons to a 38-64 record in two years.
9. Rich Witten, Florida International (34.1 years): Witten this June was hired to replace Mervyl Melendez. Witten cae to FIU from Virginia Commonwealth, where he spent the last five years on staff. Previously, he worked at Winthrop, Miami and Central Florida.
10. Aaron Meade, Tarleton State (34.3 years): Meade has led Tarleton State for three seasons, going 51-80. Meade has guided Tarleton State through the transition from Division II to Division I.
11. Blake Dean, New Orleans (34.5 years): Dean has led the Privateers for seven seasons and is 189-170-1. New Orleans this year went 30-23 and finished third in the Southland Conference.
12. Alex Sogard, Wright State (35.1 years): Sogard has led Wright State for four seasons and has amassed an impressive resume, as he has continued the Raiders’ dominance of the Horizon League. He is 112-64 and has led them to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. Prior to taking over the program, he spent two seasons on staff at Wright State under Jeff Mercer.
13. Rob Vaughn, Maryland (35.1 years): Vaughn, the youngest head coach in a Power Five conference, this spring led Maryland to one of the best seasons in program history. The Terrapins went 48-14, won the Big Ten and hosted a regional for the first time ever. In five seasons, he is 141-96 and has taken Maryland to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years.
14. Ben Orloff, UC Irvine (35.3 years): Orloff was promoted to head coach of his alma mater following the 2018 season, when Mike Gillespie retired. Orloff is 120-66 in four seasons and in 2021 led the Anteaters to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014 and their first Big West title since 2009.
15. Evan Porter, Nebraska-Omaha (35.4 years): Porter has been head coach of his alma mater for six seasons, following four years as an assistant coach for the Mavericks. He in 2019 led UNO to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and is 116-158-1 during his career.
16. Ryan Jenkins, Tennessee-Martin (35.6 years): Jenkins has led the Skyhawks for the last five seasons after being promoted from assistant coach. He has a 71-145 record since taking over.
17. Billy O’Conner, Xavier (35.6 years): O’Conner took over his alma mater in 2017, following six years as an assistant coach. In five years as head coach, he is 113-129 and has led the Musketeers to a runner-up finish in the Big East Tournament in three straight seasons. Xavier this year went 33-27, their fourth-highest single-season win total in program history.
18. Eric Roof, Eastern Michigan (35.8 years): Roof has been head coach at Eastern Michigan for five seasons, following three seasons on staff as an assistant coach. The Eagles are 78-153-1 during his tenure and this spring went 22-34.
19. Tyler Oakes, North Dakota State (35.8 years): Oakes last year was promoted to head coach after eight seasons as an assistant coach at North Dakota State. His first season was a banner one, as the Bison went 31-19 and won the program’s first regular season Summit League title.
20. Jordon Banfield, Oakland (35.9 years): Banfield has led the Grizzlies for two seasons, going 49-56. Oakland this spring went 31-27 and finished as runner-up in the Horizon League Tournament. The Grizzlies’ 31 wins this spring were their most since 1991.
21. Ed Kahovec, Holy Cross (36.3 years): Kahovec has led the Crusaders for three seasons following three years as an assistant coach. Holy Cross is 32-67 during his tenure and this spring finished fourth in the Patriot League standings.
22. Chris Crenshaw, Southern (36.4 years): Crenshaw has led the Jaguars for two seasons after he was promoted following one year as an assistant coach. Southern is 47-61 under Crenshaw and has played in back-to-back Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament championship games, winning in 2021 and falling in 14 innings in 2022.
23. John Delaney, Quinnipiac (36.6 years): Delaney took over as head coach of his alma mater eight years ago, promoted after two seasons as an assistant coach. The Bobcats are 149-214 under Delaney and in 2019 he led them to the best season in program history, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 and winning a program record 30 games.
24. Dan Bertolini, Youngstown State (36.8 years): Bertolini has led the Penguins for six seasons, going 106-186. Youngstown State in 2021 went 32-24, the second-most wins in program history and the first time the Penguins had won more than 20 games since 2010.
25. Dan Pirillo, Long Island (36.8 years): Pirillo took over as head coach of his alma mater six years ago and has guided the Sharks to new heights. In 2018, LIU won the first Northeast Conference Tournament championship in program history and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1972. The Sharks returned to regionals in 2022 and won a program-record 37 games.