Ranking the ACC Football Coaches for 2011.

I’m going to rank the coaches on who I think are the “best” coaches in the ACC and even if they haven’t coached an ACC game I have an opinion. It’s still only July and I’m itching for some football.

As I look at the list, I feel like top to bottom the ACC finally has a collection of coaches that can elevate the entire the conference. It’s really a quality coaching group.

Here goes…

1. Frank Beamer , Virginia Tech 

The Good: The Hokies have won 73 games the last 7 years, with 3 ACC Titles. The Hokies are the top dog in the ACC until someone proves otherwise. Frank Beamer built Virginia Tech into a nationally prominent program that’s the ACC’s most consistent winner.

The Bad: Anyone else get the feeling Beamer has taken the Hokies as far as he can? Virginia Tech is a very good football program, but just seems to fall short of great.

2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

The Good: FSU won 10 games, beat Florida, and won the Chick-Fil-A bowl in Fisher’s first year. He also brought in a monster recruiting class. I like how Fisher handled the awkward dismissal of Bobby Bowden . You never heard his name come up in a negative way during that time at all, he just patiently waited his turn.

The Bad: Nothing obvious at the moment, but we’ll know more after this year as Florida State will enter 2011 as the likely ACC Favorite. Expectations just got raised at FSU.

3. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech 

The Good: Johnson revitalized Georgia Tech football by winning 20 games and an ACC Title his in first two years in Atlanta. His triple option offense at times seems unstoppable. Johnson won a Division 1-AA title at Georgia Southern  and made everyone take notice of Navy Football for the first time in decades.

The Bad: Johnson went 6-7 in 2010 and admitted he could have handled motivational issues better. His recruiting classes on paper aren’t blowing anyone away.

4. Butch Davis, North Carolina

The Good: Davis has made football relevant in Chapel Hill. He hasn’t won fewer than 8 games since 2007. He’s top-notch recruiter.

The Bad: Under his watch the NCAA had to investigate the North Carolina football program in 2010 for various violations. You get the feeling this isn’t going to end well for UNC.

5. Jim Grobe , Wake Forest 

The Good: The Deacs have done remarkable things under Grobe. He won 28 games in 3 year stretch from 2006-2008. Wake Forest always plays solid fundamental football.

The Bad: Grobe may have peaked 3 years ago at Wake Forest. The Deacs have only won 8 games the last 2 years. This is a critical season for Grobe.

6. Randy Edsall, Maryland

The Good: Edsall put Connecticut football on the map, highlighted by 2010 Fiesta Bowl Appearance.

The Bad: It remains to be seen if Edsall can recruit well enough to turn Maryland into an ACC Title Contender.

7. Mike London, Virginia

The Good: London brought some much needed energy to a stagnating Virginia football team. He also appears to be a solid recruiter.

The Bad: This season will be just London’s 2nd year coaching at the Division 1 level. Cav fans weren’t too upset with a 4-8 first year knowing it was only year 1 of London’s tenure, but another 4-8 year will raise doubts.

8. David Cutcliffe, Duke

The Good: Very few coaches in the ACC can match Cutcliffe as an offensive coach. He might handle quarterbacks better than any coach in the conference.

The Bad: Bigger name programs might forget Cutcliffe can really coach the longer he stays at Duke. He’s a good coach, but Duke needs a miracle to turn into team capable of winning 8 or 9 games.

9. Dabo Swinney, Clemson

The Good: In 2009 Swinney led Clemson to their first ACC Title of any kind since the early 90s, by winning the ACC Atlantic Division Title. Swinney is also one of the best recruiters in the ACC.

The Bad: Don’t you get the sense outside of his obvious skill as a recruiter that Swinney is still learning on the job? Swinney let QB Kyle Parker overshadow the football program and that in part led to a 6-7 2010 season.

10. Al Golden, Miami

The Good: Golden won 8 and 9 games the last two years at Temple. He resurrected that an Owl program that was on life support. Only 41 Golden if successful could be around a long time in Miami.

The Bad: The legacy of Miami football can swallow up any coach. Randy Shannon was a stand up individual, that coached the right way, but didn’t win big enough. We’ll quickly know if Golden is up to it. Coaching Temple isn’t like coaching Miami.

11. Frank Spaziani, Boston College 

The Good: Spaziani has done a nice job of keeping BC solid if not spectacular the last 2 years. The Eagles have remained a tough hardnosed team.

The Bad: Does anyone really think Boston College will win 10 games or play for an ACC Title under Spaziani? That’s what I thought.

12. Tom O’Brien, NC State

The Good: O’Brien won 9 games last year and NC State finished the year in the top 25. He had 8 straight winning seasons at Boston College.

The Bad: Until last season, I had considered O’Brien’s tenure Raleigh a big disappointment. He had 3 straight losing seasons, before last year’s breakthrough. I’m not convinced O’Brien can win big 2 years in a row, especially with star QB Russell Wilson not coming back.

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