Ranking the ACC Football Coaches for 2016


As we like to do here at All Sports Discussion, it’s the off-season for football and basketball and we like to rank stuff – Players, coaches, and programs. It makes for great talking points until the season the starts. We want to get things going by ranking the football coaches. If your best days were 5 years ago… Good luck, it is 2016 and more recent results count more heavily. We have a lot of new coaches in the ACC this year, but that doesn’t stop us from ranking them.

1) Jimbo Fisher – Florida State 

In 2015, Florida State had a down year. They still won 10 games, made a Big 6 Bowl and finished ranked in the top 15. The Seminoles are right there with Alabama and Ohio State as three programs that have separated themselves from the rest of the country. Every single year you can count one these programs being in the mix for a playoff spot. FSU was last year until late October.

Jimbo Fisher has built a monster at FSU, as he lifted the Noles out of a 10 year run mediocrity in the mid 2000s. He is an ace recruiter, and can work wonders with his quarterbacks.

Fisher has national title, but the coach second on this list is charging hard for the number 1 spot.

2) Dabo Swinney – Clemson

If Alabama, Ohio State an FSU are top 3 programs in the country, then Clemson is sitting at #4. The Tigers have become a national power under head coach Dabo Swinney. He has won astonishing 56 games the last 5 years and reached the National Title Game in 2015.

Swinney has completely changed the culture at Clemson. He is one of the best recruiters in the country, and his eye for talent -coaches and players is as good as anyone in college football. If he wins the ACC in 2016, and reaches the playoff for a 2nd straight year he’ll overtake Fisher.

3) David Cutcliffe – Duke

If you thought Duke could average 9 wins a year over a 3 year period, raise your hand. Ok you’re lying. David Cutcliffe has done it the last 3 years at Duke. It is absolutely remarkable what Cutcliffe has done at Duke. Not only is Duke now respectable, they are good.

Last year Cutcliffe got a big monkey off his back, when Duke won a bowl game. It was Duke’s first bowl win since 1961. Incredible the job Cutcliffe has done in Durham.

4) Bobby Petrino – Louisville

Bobby Petrino has always been known as one of the great offensive minds in college football. He got Louisville to the Orange Bowl. He got Arkansas to Sugar Bowl. He’s won everywhere he’s been.

He’s averaging 8.5 wins in his first two years in his current stint at Louisville. Louisville is poised to be a perennial top 20 team.

5) Mark Richt – Miami

Mark Richt comes to Miami with an outstanding resume from his time at Georgia. In 15 years at UGA, he won fewer than 8 games just once. While Georgia never reached the status many thought that program was capable of, they were a top 25 program. Richt also consistently recruited top 10 classes to UGA.

Miami gives Richt a fresh start where I expect he’ll make Miami, likely not a national title contender at least an ACC Coastal Division contender. You’ll see Miami in Charlotte during Mark Richt’s tenure.

6) Pat Narduzzi – Pittsburgh

Well that didn’t take long did it? We all thought Narduzzi was an excellent hire at Pittburgh, and he did nothing to disprove in that in his first season. Pittsburgh finished 8-5 last season, and was in thick of the Coastal Division race until the end of the season. His recruiting at Pitt has been pretty good as well, and he was a highly respected defensive assistant during his time at Michigan State.

The Panthers are expected to be one of the Coastal’s better teams in 2016.

7) Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech

Justin Fuente was one of the hottest names in coaching last year. He won 19 games the last two years at Memphis, including  a win over eventual 10 game winner Ole Miss. He is excellent offensive mind, and his taking over at Virginia Tech was regarded as one of the best hires in college football.

8) Larry Fedora – North Carolina

This time last year Larry was on the hotseat. One year later after a 11-3 top 15 season, the Tar Heels look like a rising program.

The fast paced high octane offense that was expected to be the hallmark of Fedora’s offense, finally came together last season. I don’t see why UNC can’t continue the momentum.

If the Tar Heels put together another top 20 season, we might see Fedora push towards the top 5 on this list. He still is only a year removed from a 6-7 season.

9) Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia

I really liked the Bronco Mendenhall hire at Virginia. One thing I always thought of when Mendenhall was at BYU was how tough his Cougar teams were. Playing a national schedule BYU has went no worse than 8-5 at anytime in the last 5 years.

From 2006-2009, BYU won at least 10 games each year.

10) Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech

How can a coach with the resume of Paul Johnson fall to 10th on this list? Johnson has 4 Coastal Division Titles, 3 ACCCG appearances, 2 Big 6 Bowl appearances, and a top 10 season just 2 years ago. We’ll a 3-9 season will that do that to you, but the ACC was suddenly become very deep in good football coaches. Yes Georgia Tech had a ton of injuries, but still that kind of year is unacceptable.

That said if you doubt Johnson’s coaching ability, Georgia Tech is the only ACC school that has defeated Florida State or Clemson besides them beating each other since 2012. He has a win over each. He won 11 games in 2014.

11) Dino Babers – Syracuse

Dino Babers was considered another solid ACC football hire. Hailing from Bowling Green where he made the Falcons one of the MAC’s top teams, he’s expected to bring a more wide open offense to Syracuse. That is something the Orange sorely need.

12) Dave Doeren – N.C. State

Many though Dave Doeren would have a breakthrough season last year at NC State. That didn’t happen, as the Wolfpack went 7-6 with a favorable schedule. The 6-18 ACC record in 3 years is starting to look like an eyesore.

Doeren probably needs to make some strides with the Wolfpack this year or his seat will starting really warming up.

13) Steve Addiazo – Boston College

Steve Addiazo enters his 4th year at Boston College, and it is time to wonder if the BC is better than when he arrived. After 2 respectable 7-6 (4-4) seasons, the bottom fell out last year as the Eagles went 3-9 (0-8).

I like the physical play Addiazo has brought to BC, but it remains to be seen if he can turn Boston College into competitive ACC Atlantic program that can win 7-9 games a year consistently.

14) Dave Clawson – Wake Forest

It is not that I think Dave Clawson is a bad coach. He’s a pretty good coach, but what do you do with back to back 3-9 (1-7) seasons? Wake Forest is just a difficult job, in one of the toughest divisions in college football. How many divisions out there have 2 teams capable of winning a national title. That’s what Wake Forest deals with in FSU and Clemson. Plus Louisville is a strong program as well.

A bowl game seems like a reasonable goal, but I’m not sure Clawson can get the Deacs there.

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