Don Carthel, college football’s youngest head coach, celebrates his 68th birthday

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The youngest head coach in all of college football celebrated his 68th birthday Tuesday. Don Carthel, a Dimmit native and Eastern New Mexico football alumnae, began his coaching career under the legendary coach L.G. Wilson at Floydada High School in Floydada, Texas from 1975 to 1976. From there, Carthel served a two-year stint with the University of Dubuque and one season with Boswell High School before being hired in his first head coaching gig.

At the fresh age of 29, Carthel accepted the role to lead Lubbock Christian College’s (now Lubbock Christian University) football program as the youngest head coach in college football history; he went 1-19 in the 1981-1982 season before resigning to take a job as an assistant coach at the University of Texas at El Paso under coach Bill Yung for a season.

Carthel soon accepted a head coaching position at his alma mater (ENMU) where he had only one losing season out of seven seasons with the Greyhounds. In his first season with Eastern New Mexico, Carthel posted a 5-5 record before going 8-3 in 1986, 9-2 in ’87, 2-8 in ’88, 7-3 in ’88, 6-4 in ’89, and 7-3-1 in ’90. In five of his seven years with the Greyhounds, the team was ranked in the Division II Top 20 Poll. In 1991, ENMU won the Lone Star Conference championship game.

Carthel retired at the age of 39 before coaching as a volunteer coach at Abilene Christian University in 2000. Carthel was inducted into ENMU’s hall of fame in 2001 before returning to full-time coaching in 2004 for the Amarillo Dusters in the Intense Football League. In 2005, Carthel was hired on at West Texas A&M where he served for eight season. After another coaching break, Carthel coached at Texas A&M Commerce from 2015 to 2018 as a quality control assistant coach under his son Colby Carthel. When Colby moved to Stephen F. Austin, so did Don where he’s been coaching since 2019.

Carthel currently holds a career college football coaching record of 124-69-1.

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