"He's a dude."
There's no perfect way to compile a 40 under 40 list in college football, so I based this list on the three-word quote above. It's how people I trust in the sport often describe ascending superstars -- people I need to watch.
Some lists like this are strictly coaches, with every head coach under 40 included, along with a swath of Power 5 coordinators. But some true rising stars in the sport work outside the national spotlight and deserve to be recognized. Fans know about Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley but might not know player personnel aces at South Carolina or Army or dynamic FCS coaches at Southern Utah and Austin Peay or the next wave of young coordinators at North Texas and Memphis.
This list tried to identify a cross section of men and women under 40 working in college football. There are some very talented folks who didn't make it, as 40 names is more limiting than you might think. To pack in more under-the-radar names, we eliminated Power 5 head coaches under 40, so you won't see Riley (34), Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury (39), Iowa State's Matt Campbell (38), Minnesota's P.J. Fleck (37) or Oregon State's Jonathan Smith (39).
Here's my list of dudes (and dudettes) you should know around the sport.
Group of 5 head coaches
Neal Brown, Troy
Brown has the best winning percentage (.808) of any Group of 5 coach in the past two seasons and is one of seven FBS coaches to win more than 80 percent of his games since 2016. He had his signature victory last year at LSU and gets another opportunity next month at Nebraska. At 27, Brown became the youngest coordinator in college football and led offenses at Troy, Texas Tech and Kentucky.