Pittsburgh’s hire of Pat Narduzzi adds to the list of ACC Football Coaches that match the identity of their school.


First off Happy Holidays to everyone out there! Opened enough presents? Ate enough food? Here’s a little downtime ACC reading.

Pat Narduzzi is set to become Pittsburgh’s new head coach.  Narduzzi has been the Defensive Coordinator at Michigan St. the last 8 years. The Spartans have had one of the most physical defenses during that time. I think Narduzzi fits the identity that Pittsburgh needs to have to be successful going forward. I’ve often felt like that the Northern schools are the most successful when they they play a physical hardnosed style of football. Getting the athletic speedster type player typically is easier for the Southern schools, where more of those recruits reside.

Narduzzi fits that mold for Pittsburgh. He has Midwestern/Northern roots. We’ve seen the Michigan St. defense the last few have a ton of success. I like this fit at Pittsburgh, but he’s not the only one ACC coach, that I believe fits the identity of their schools.

Florida State – Jimbo Fisher

Fisher was the right coach at the right time for Florida State. Fisher was worked under some of the best coaches of the last 25 years – guys like Nick Saban and Bobby Bowden. He knew exactly what it took to win and recruit at an elite level. A lesser coach could have been overwhelmed coaching at the ACC school with the highest ceiling.

Georgia Tech – Paul Johnson

When Paul Johnson was first hired at Georgia Tech, I really liked the move. Georgia Tech isn’t going to out-recruit its southern neighbors. The academic restrictions are too much to over come. The Yellow Jackets needed a coach that understands this. Paul Johnson coming from Navy knows academic obstacles. He provided Georgia Tech a unique identity with his Triple Option offense. I’ve always thought Johnson was a good fit, but I had started to sour on his recruiting which I thought had become too poor. Johnson proved me and everyone else wrong with a 10 win season this year.

Clemson – Dabo Swinney

When Tommy Bowden was let go at Clemson, the Tigers needed new energy in the worst way. Swinney provided that. Dabo will never be confused for a X’s and O’s genius, but he could recruit and motivate. Under the right coach, Clemson is an easy place to recruit to. Swinney took advantage of that, and has made Clemson nationally relevant again.

Boston College – Steve Addazio

I see Addazio very much in the same mold as Narduzzi. Addazio’s tough physical teams, are a perfect match for Boston College. This was a dead program a couple of years ago, but Addazio has brought life into it.

Louisville – Bobby  Petrino

Bobby Petrino’s ability to coach has never been questioned. He’s one of best offensive minds in the business. Over the last few years, Louisville has been a consistent top 25 level program and has tons of potential to take the next step. Petrino is the caliber of coach that can take Louisville to the next level. If he’s committed to Louisville for the long haul, then the Cardinals should be a solid program for years to come.

Duke – David Cutcliffe

Another great fit here… Duke could have hired an up and coming coach, and I guarantee he either would have failed at Duke or left after a couple of solid seasons. Hiring a coach that was little bit older, but with wealth of experience and credibility is exactly what Duke needed. Cutcliffe has turned to Duke into a solid program, and he’s likely to finish out his career there.

Virginia Tech – Frank Beamer

Frank Beamer built Virginia Tech into a well respected program in one of the only ways I think it could be done. He gave Virginia Tech an identity through special teams play that became well known through out the country. I don’t know how many coaches could have accomplished what he did in Blacksburg. I’m not sure he’s still the right man at Virginia Tech, but he was for close to 20 years.

The other ACC coaches Larry Fedora (UNC), Dave Clawson (Wake Forest), Dave Doeren (NC State), Scott Shafer (Syracuse), Mike London (UVA), Al Golden (Miami) didn’t wow me when they got hired. All had success as head coaches at the FCS or mid-major level. Only Shafer has been a career assistant.

That doesn’t mean they can’t succeed. I am starting to really question London and Golden though.

I like Fedora’s hurry up offense at a school like UNC, where there is usually good skill position talent.  Clawson has long way to go at Wake Forest, and would do well to follow Jim Grobes blue print for success there by trying to red-shirt as many players as possible. Doeren made progress this year at NC State, but Shafer took a big step back this year at Syracuse.

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