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Mar
31
2012

Ranking the ACC Football Coaches

Not too long ago we went through the Athlon Sports Ranking of the ACC Coaches. These were rankings in large part I didn’t agree with. Some of the comments I had there I’ll elaborate on now when I rank the ACC coaches for a little spring football reading.

1. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

What I like:
Since 2004 Frank Beamer has won an astonishing 84 games at Virginia Tech. 5 BCS Game appearances, 4 Conference Titles, 5 ACC Coastal Title. No current ACC coach comes close to Beamer’s record.

The next step:
Beamer will never garner the national respect he deserves until Virginia Tech starts having some consistent success in BCS Games. He has abysmal 1-5 in BCS games since 1999.

2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

What I like:
At the end of the day it’s about winning. Fisher has won 19 games in his two seasons as Florida State. That’s the second most in the ACC behind Frank Beamer. Fisher also recruits at a level only a couple of other ACC schools can hope to match.

The next step:
There have been hiccups along the way like losing at Wake Forest and getting beat at home by Virginia last year, but overall the trend is upward. The Noles are 3-0 the last 2 years against the mighty SEC, and are 2-0 in Bowl games under Fisher. The next step is clear; win an ACC Title.

3. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

What I like:
Paul Johnson has won at least 8 games 3 of the last 4 years at Georgia Tech. Do you know how many times Georgia Tech has won 8+ games 3 out of 4 years since 1960? Exactly 1 time; a four year run from 1998-2001. Johnson’s triple option offense is consistently one of the nation’s best rushing offenses.

The next step:
Johnson has to prove he can win big (9+ wins) with “his” players. A 6-7 season 2010 and losses in 5 of the Jacket’s last 7 games in 2011, are raising some questions about the players Paul Johnson is bringing in. It’s probably time to beat Georgia again and/or win a bowl game.

4. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

What I like:
From 2006-2008 Jim Grobe won 28 games at Wake Forest. That 3 year run is every bit as good as Beamer’s 8 year 10+ win streak. The ACC standard for coaching streaks in the conference is still Bobby Bowden’s more than decade long streak of having Florida State finish the season in the top 5. Even though the Deacs haven’t had a winning season since 2008, nobody maximizes the talent they have better than Grobe.

The next step:
I’m not sure that 06-08 run that included an ACC Title can occur again at Wake Forest, especially with the talent Clemson and Florida State are bringing in. That Deacs have had 3 straight losing seasons. Grobe’s next goal is to put Wake Forest back over .500.

5. Dabo Swinney, Clemson

What I like:
It’s time to give some Dabo Swinney credit for his accomplishments at Clemson. He won an ACC Title in 2011, and has 2 ACC Atlantic Division Titles. He’s surrounded himself with a well-respected staff, and he continues to recruit at a high level.

The next step:
Consistency… The Tigers are moving in the right direction, but are still prone to head scratching performances ala the blowout losses at NC State and West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.

6. Mike London, Virginia

What I like:
London had alot of work to do when he arrived at Virginia a couple of years. In two years he had Virginia within 1 game of an ACC Coastal Division Title. He’s recruiting pretty well, and has Virginia fans optimistic for the future.

The Next Step:
Keep improving the talent base. A couple of games late last year against Virginia Tech and Auburn proved the Cavs are still lacking in that department.

7. Tom O’brien, N.C. State

What I like:
Tom O’Brien did one of the most underrated coaching jobs in the ACC last year. The Pack won 8 games despite the departure of QB Russell Wilson, and a slew of injuries. NC State is starting to look more and more like O’Brien’s better teams at BC, physical with good quarterbacking.

The Next Step:
O’Brien must make sure he doesn’t fall behind recruiting wise with Clemson and Florida State. The Pack didn’t bring in one single 4 star or better player according to Scout.com. Don’t let anyone tell you different. You win with players.

8. Al Golden, Miami

What I like:
How Golden managed to put together one of the ACC’s best recruiting classes this past season, despite the ongoing NCAA investigation at Miami was nothing short of amazing. Golden scored major points for that.

The Next Step:
It’s wasn’t like the Hurricanes were completely devoid of talent, and they still only went 6-6 last season with home losses to Virginia and Boston College. The expectations at Miami are national titles, but a Division title is the first step.

9. Larry Fedora, North Carolina

What I like:
No pressure… With scholarship reductions and a post-season ban, Fedora is under no pressure to win early. He went 12-2 at Southern Miss his final year. Hey 12-2 is 12-2.

The Next Step:
Guide UNC through the NCAA’s probation. If he keeps the Tar Heels respectable he will have done a credible job. It’s tough to rank Fedora because this is truly his first year at UNC. If somehow he wins 8 or more games this year, he’d move up this list fast.

10. David Cutcliffe, Duke

What I like:
Cutcliffe can coach quarterbacks and offensive football. He’s gotten the Blue Devils tantalizingly close to being respectable.

The Next Step:
Cutcliffe is now entering his 5th season at Duke. There still hasn’t been a bowl appearance. Even at Duke you want to see steps of improvement and Cutcliffe seems to have hit a wall in Durham. A Bowl game is a must either this year or next for Duke.

11. Frank Spaziani, Boston College

What I like:
To be honest I thought Spaziani had lost his team last year, but they won 3 of their last 5 games. There’s still a toughness to BC that I think Spaziani brings.

The Next Step:
Stop the decline… Boston College has gradually gotten worse with each passing year that Spaziani has been at the helm. The Eagles are now certainly near the bottom of the ACC in terms of talent. If Spaziani doesn’t get BC back to .500 this year, that might be it for him.

12. Randy Edsall, Maryland

What I like: * crickets *

The Next Step:
If I give Edsall the benefit of the doubt, then the purge of Maryland players that don’t want to be there needs to continue. Only then will we know what Edsall can really do in College Park. Getting to .500 and not having a player transferring out every 2 weeks would help. Edsall did convince one of the nation’s best WR’s Stefon Diggs to come to College Park, so there’s hope.


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