Spring 2011 - Ranking The ACC Coaches
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher
Posted Apr 15, 2011

If you had to pick a coach right now to lead your program for the next five years and beyond, which one would you want? Who's on the hottest seats? When will each team deal with a coaching change? As part of the 2011 Spring Preview, CFN ranks all the ACC coaches based on the future and not necessarily on how good they are right now.

2011 Spring Preview - No. 13
Ranking the ACC Coaches

Here's the drill. You have to hire a head coach right now to lead your program for the next several years; whom would you choose? Forget about what happened in the past and forget about legendary status - you wouldn't hire Joe Paterno to build the franchise - you want a guy who can be the head man for a long, long time.

2011 Spring Preview  

- No. 20 Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50)  

- No. 19 - Is a smaller Big 12 better? 
- No. 18 - Who doesn't want to be Independent?  
- No. 17 - Should the SEC champ play in the BCS Champ?  

- No. 16 Top 50 Conf. Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 41-50)  

- No. 15 The Preseason Polls Will Probably Be ...

Schedules and Too-Early Spring Picks
ACC | Big East
Big Ten | Big 12
C-USA | Ind | MAC   
Mountain West | Pac-12
SEC | Sun Belt | WAC 
Age is a factor, being able to recruit helps, and the ability to do big things with mediocre talent doesn't hurt. So with that in mind, this isn't a ranking of the best coaches in the ACC; this is a ranking of the coaches you'd want to lead the program for the next five years or more.

- ACC Coaches | Big East Coaches | Big Ten Coaches
- Big 12 Coaches | C-USA Coaches | Ind Coaches
- MAC Coaches | M-West Coaches | Pac-12 Coaches
- SEC Coaches | Sun Belt Coaches | WAC Coaches

- Top 15 | No. 16 - 30 | No. 31 - 45 | No. 46 - 60
- No. 61 - 75 | No. 76 - 90 | No. 91 - 105 | Bottom 15 
1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State  Career Record: 10-4
He waited his turn and was patient, and now he has Florida State close to being a true superpower again. More than anything else, he's dominating as a recruiter as he quickly upgraded the talent level. A top offensive mind, young, and on the verge of becoming one of the stars of the coaching world, he's one to rebuild a program around.
Hot Seat Status: None. Expectations are sky high and soon nothing less than an ACC title will be acceptable, but for now, all is right with the FSU world.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In more than ten years. He's not going anywhere.

2. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Career Record: 240-118-4

About to turn 65 years old and with no signs of slowing down, he made Virginia Tech into the ACC's brightest star with four conference titles after winning the Big East championship three times from 1995 to 1999. It's possible he's one of the most underappreciated college football coaches of all-time.
Hot Seat Status: None. Buildings and streets will be named after him whenever he decides he's done.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within the next five years and only because of age.

3. Butch Davis, North Carolina
Career Record: 79-43

He might have snuck out of Miami, was a failure for the Cleveland Browns, and is a part of several major issues at North Carolina, but he's a peerless collector of college talent and he's a winner with a 5-2 record in bowl games. He made a basketball school a possible football power and he rebuilt a dynasty on South Beach.
Hot Seat Status: It depends on how the controversy shakes out. If nothing else comes from the drama of last year, he's in Chapel Hill as long as he wants to be.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. His name keeps coming up any time a big job opens up.

4. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Career Record: 133-53

He pulled off miracles at Navy and he brought Georgia Tech an ACC title, but his Yellow Jackets took a step back last year. Still, his option attack could be even more devastating with a few more recruiting classes to get the right guys. No one wants to prepare for the offense, but Johnson has to start doing more in bowl games with just a 2-5 record.
Hot Seat Status: None, but that could quickly change if Tech struggles this year. There might be some concern that there's a ceiling on what the team can do with the unconventional offense.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. No bigger program will make the commitment to the option.

5. Al Golden, Miami
Career Record: 27-34

After doing the near-impossible and making Temple a real, live football program, he's going to try to restore the glory at Miami. However, he didn't actually win anything at Temple and now he has to 1) win championships and 2) do it all squeaky-clean and with the discipline that Randy Shannon provided. Young, energetic, and confident, he should be the right man for the job.
Hot Seat Status: Big time. Considering that Shannon did a solid job and got canned despite doing everything the right way, it's ACC title or bust for Golden. He'll get a year of grace period … maybe.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Five years. The expectations are unrealistic; it's not 1984. Golden won't be able to put a fence around the "State of Miami" with Florida, Florida State, USF, UCF, and all the big-name national programs taking players away from the talent-rich area.

6. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Career Record: 74-70

After making Connecticut into a football school – at least somewhat – and after taking the team to the BCS last year, it'll be his job to improve upon what Ralph Friedgen accomplished by making Maryland relevant. Now that he can get players he couldn't get to Storrs, it'll be interesting to see what he can do.
Hot Seat Status: High. Friedgen went 9-4 last year, won a bowl game, and it still wasn't enough to stick around. Edsall will have to get the Terps into ACC title contention soon.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Five years. It's Maryland. It'll be impossible to have consistent success like everyone wanted to see under Friedgen.

7. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Career Record: 19-15

William Christopher Swinney took the Tigers to the ACC title game in 2009, but the bloom was off the rose last year in a disappointing follow up. Just when it seemed like the ultra-energetic head man might be in a little bit of trouble, he came up with a whale of a recruiting class to get everyone fired up about the future. Now he has to start winning more big games.
Hot Seat Status: Warm. Clemson coaches always have to deal with insane pressure, and the rise of South Carolina hasn't helped. The 2011 recruiting class bought him another year no matter what happens this year.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. Welcome to Tommy Bowden part two.

8. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Career Record: 95-93-1

It's impossible to be consistently great at Wake Forest, but Grobe has come close. He was able to pull off the impossible and win the ACC title in 2006, but he hasn't been able to pull off similar miracles and things fell off the map last year going 3-9. He only has three winning seasons in the last nine years. While he does more with less than just about anyone, there's little margin for error if injuries strike like last year.
Hot Seat Status: Little. Even if the Demon Deacons keep losing, the school isn't going to want to eat a contract signed through 2016.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In 2015.

9. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Career Record: 54-50

After being unceremoniously dumped by Ole Miss, he revived his career as a coordinator and now is trying to do the impossible at Duke. The offense has been more interesting, but the overall results haven't been there with talent level always going to be an issue. Tennessee flirted with him when Lane Kiffin bolted, but he stuck around in Durham to fight the good fight.
Hot Seat Status: None. Duke was happy to keep him around.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. He's relatively young, turning 57 this season, but the losses will mount. He'd have been good at Tennessee.

10. Mike London, Virginia
Career Record: 4-8

A premier defensive line coach, London is going to soon make the Cavaliers a killer on defense and more physical on offense. He's going to have a tough time getting the talent that Al Groh brought in, but he's a fantastic coach who'll make the program more competitive in the logjam of an ACC. It would be nice to see what he could do with more top-shelf players.
Hot Seat Status: Little. There's no real pressure in his second year of the rebuilding job, but he has to come up with six wins and can't afford a total disaster.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In five years. He'll make Virginia good, but at some point the school will want to get over a hump that might not be possible in the upgraded league.

11. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Career Record: 12-10

Age. He'd be higher up for what he's doing with the BC linebackers alone, but he just turned 64. The Eagles gets their share of top-shelf pro talents, but there aren't enough of them to do more than be extremely competitive. Extremely popular and a personable, hard-nosed coach, his teams will always run well and will always be physical.
Hot Seat Status: Little. After the Jeff Jagodzinski fiasco, BC apparently puts a premium on loyalty. It'll take a few disastrous years for him to be in any trouble.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years because of age.

12. Tom O'Brien, NC State
Career Record: 100-70

As long as he gets to bowl games, where he's 7-2, everything is fine. After working wonders at Boston College, he has cranked out some decidedly mediocre teams at NC State. A Marine, he coaches well-disciplined, tough teams, but the wins aren't coming and the recruiting classes aren't near what Chuck Amato brought in.
Hot Seat Status: Toasty. He needs to make the Pack a player in the ACC race in a hurry. The program can't fall behind North Carolina.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. Even if he turns State into a power, he's 62. Age won't be his problem, but a lack of championships will be.  

- ACC Coaches | Big East Coaches | Big Ten Coaches
- Big 12 Coaches | C-USA Coaches | Ind Coaches
- MAC Coaches | M-West Coaches | Pac-12 Coaches
- SEC Coaches | Sun Belt Coaches | WAC Coaches

- Top 15 | No. 16 - 30 | No. 31 - 45 | No. 46 - 60
- No. 61 - 75 | No. 76 - 90 | No. 91 - 105 | Bottom 15