Unless, that is, you leave it. College football has quickly become a young man's game. Once you've passed 50 in life's ride, your next job could be your last. Once you leave — no matter how it happens — it's nearly impossible to find your way back. Don't think so? Check out these guys: Glen Mason, Gary Barnett, Jim Donnan, Larry Coker, Franchione. All successful coaches at major universities, all deep into the fourth quarter of their professional lives.
Never to be heard from again. In fact, this is the reality for Coker: He's one of three finalists to become the coach at Texas-San Antonio, a start-up program hoping to make its debut in I-AA in 2011.
When jobs open, old guys need not apply. Think about the major jobs that opened this winter, and look how they were filled: Auburn (Gene Chizik), Washington (Steve Sarkisian), Tennessee (Lane Kiffin), Mississippi State (Dan Mullen), Clemson (Dabo Swinney). Chizik, at 47, is the old man of the group. The others are all in their 30s.
These days, presidents and athletic directors all want what's hip and hot. They want young recruiters who can procure talent and learn on the job as coaches.
I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it most certainly is a gamble when you're dealing with multimillion dollar budgets that drive athletic programs.
Franchione won at least nine games in at least one season at each of his Division I stops; from New Mexico to TCU to Alabama to Texas A&M. He has thrived through the adversity of building a program in the non-BCS world, and he's banged heads with heavyweights in the SEC and Big 12.
He rebuilt programs (New Mexico, TCU) and cleaned up a cesspool (Alabama). Yet now he is remembered for his careless VIP e-mail newsletter at A&M that gave big-money boosters inside injury and player information.
In no way am I condoning what happened. It was a horrible decision that wasn't completely thought out, step by step.
The first few steps: Satiate bigmoney boosters who crave information, and make enough money to run your website and pay your personal assistant.
The one key step that was ignored: What if boosters use the information for gambling? Again, dumb mistake. But it's not the worst we've seen from coaches--and certainly something forgivable a couple of years removed.
Franchione was in on a couple of jobs this offseason, most notably the San Diego State gig that went to former Ball State coach Brady Hoke. Franchione was at least part of that process, which is more than can be said for a majority of the "old" guard.
But the job eventually went to the younger Hoke. And if he doesn't make it at SDSU, he'll be in his mid-50s and out of a job.
And likely out of luck.
The Fighting Irish have a promising future based on coaching, current talent, recruiting, title path, and program power.
CFT: Johnny Manziel nearly transferred out of Texas A&M before the 2012 season after being suspended, according to reports, but he stayed after his successful appeal.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
The Hype: How early is too early for sports scholarships?
There's a disturbing trend afoot in college football -- the offering of scholarships to middle school students. Despite never playing a down of high school football, Lindell Stone, an eighth-grader who already has an offer from UCLA, is the latest hot commodity. Michelle Beadle and Carolyn Manno discuss the absurdity of this trend and consider the possibility of scholarships for embryos
BCS title game
Pregame color, key plays and other moments from 'Bama's blowout win.
Check out the action from the postseason.
Check out which players were best of the best at each position.
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.