Colleague Travis Haney is taking a look at the nation's top assistant coaches under the age of 40 today. So we thought we'd piggyback off that and rattle off the best coaches worth watching in the Big Ten who can't yet scream, "I'm a man, I'm 40!" (in alphabetical order):
Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda: The 38-year-old Aranda oversaw a switch to a 3-4 defense in Madison the past two seasons, and the Badgers finished 2014 as one of the top defenses in the country despite a lack of household names. Wisconsin fans were thrilled when Aranda decided to stay on with new coach Paul Chryst rather than head to Oregon State with Gary Andersen. Someday soon, he'll lead his own program.
Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin: The Wolverines' new defensive boss turned 37 in January and comes to Ann Arbor after five years at Florida, including the past two as defensive coordinator. The Gators fielded some of the nation's top defenses during Durkin's tenure in Gainesville, and now he'll try to repeat that under Jim Harbaugh.
Iowa offensive line coach/running game coordinator Brian Ferentz: He's got a familiar last name, but he didn't get this job just because he's the son of Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz. Brian, who turned 32 last month, spent four years with the New England Patriots before coming home to Iowa City and taking over the offensive line, where he has tutored Outland Trophy winner Brandon Scherff and others. He's a rising star.
Penn State wide receivers coach Josh Gattis: The 31-year-old Gattis didn't get his first full-time coaching gig until 2011 but already has tutored a pair of All-Americans in Western Michigan's Jordan White and Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews. Nittany Lions freshman DaeSean Hamilton led the Big Ten in receptions last year. Gattis also coordinates the team's offensive recruiting.
Penn State running backs coach/special teams coordinator Charles Huff: Another young go-getter on James Franklin's staff, Huff already has spent time with Tennessee State, Maryland, Hampton, Vanderbilt, Western Michigan and the NFL's Buffalo Bills even though he doesn't turn 32 until later this month. The Nittany Lions' special teams had their ups and downs last year but figure to improve when Huff has more talent with which to work.
Rutgers offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels: The 34-year-old was elevated to playcaller this offseason after serving as wide receivers coach, and he certainly has the pedigree. His older brother, Josh, is the former Denver Broncos head coach and current Patriots offensive coordinator, and Ben coached quarterbacks with the Broncos in 2010. If he succeeds with the Scarlet Knights' offense, he'll have plenty of opportunities to move up the coaching ranks.
Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith: Hired by the Buckeyes in late 2011 at the tender age of 27, Smith is another guy with good bloodlines: His great grandfather is former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce. Smith has made his own name while working with the Buckeyes receivers, who made tremendous strides in 2014 on the way to the national title. He's also very active on Twitter, where he's ready to hand out accolades to his players.
Others to watch: Nebraska LB coach Trent Bray; Indiana offensive coordinator Kevin Johns; Northwestern RB coach Matt MacPherson; Minnesota LB coach Mike Sherels; Purdue LB coach Marcus Freeman and RB coach Jafar Williams; Maryland DL coach Chad Wilt; Illinois RB/TE coach Alex Golesh.