2013 ACC Coaches
The Building Factor
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ACC Coaching Rebuild Rankings
Coach You Want To Build Around - Part 2
Picture this. You’re a beleaguered athletic director with an opening at the top of the football organizational chart. Your checkbook is open, and your fan base is glaring at you with unwavering anticipation. Which of the
ACCs current head coaches would you put in charge of the program for the next
several years? Knowing that your own job hangs in the balance, to which man would you entrust your future?
Who gets to be the one you'd want to build around?
This is NOT necessarily a ranking of how good the head coaches are. This is a ranking based on who would be best to take over a program and build it up, so age is a major factor. A coach might be legendary, but he might not have another five years of greatness left. So with that in mind, who are the top candidates to run your program?
1. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Career Record: 42-23
Quickly growing into a red-hot coaching commodity, he worked through a rough situation at North Carolina and managed to put the pieces together for an 8-4 season. Southern Miss went 12-2 in 2011 under his watch, he left, and went 0-12 in 2012. Only 50, he’s young, a good recruiter, and a great offensive mind.
Hot Seat Status: None. The pressure is there to win, but considering the drama and controversy under Butch Davis, Fedora will get lots and lots of leeway.
The Coaching Change Will Come … when Kevin Sumlin leaves Texas A&M for the NFL? Fedora was born in College Station and cut his teeth as an SEC offensive coordinator.
2. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Career Record: 40-21
He’s a little kooky and wacky, but it all works. With unbridled enthusiasm, he’s a breath of fresh air in the world of stodgy jerkweed coaches who treat their jobs like they’re curing cancer. Just when it seemed like he was in trouble after a rocky 2010, he won the ACC title in 2011 and has the program hotter than it’s been in decades with an 11-2 campaign with the win over LSU. With great recruiting classes coming in, he’s doing big things with a pressure-packed program.
Hot Seat Status: Hot – but only because the expectations at Clemson are immense. It’s like an SEC football school playing in the ACC. Now the bar is set at BCS or bust, so one big clunker would crank up the pressure.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within five years. One of two things will happen. Either Swinney will keep on winning and the Birmingham native and former Alabama assistant will be on the short list to replace Nick Saban, or Clemson will be mediocre for a few years and will make a change.
3. Dave Doeren, NC State
Career Record: 23-4
A terrific hire for the Wolfpack, he’s considered an up-and-coming coaching superstar after taking Northern Illinois to the BCS. The Huskie program was already good, and Jerry Kill did wonderful things with it, but Doeren took it to a whole other level. 41, he has a huge future and limitless upside. His defense should quickly be among the best in the ACC.
Hot Seat Status: None. This was a huge get for NC State. Don’t be stunned if he’s the best new coaching hire.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in three years. The one thing in State’s favor is Doeren’s family. He has three kids who might get settled in if everything goes well, but if he does what he’s supposed to do, he’ll get his pick of big jobs.
4. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Career Record: 31-10
While he has been good for the Seminoles, he hasn’t been able to take them back to the Bobby Bowden level. Fisher had an unfair task of having to replace a living legend, and he has done a nice job of turning the ship back around with a few monstrous recruiting classes and two double-digit win seasons in his first three years. Only 47, he’s just getting started.
Hot Seat Status: Medium. Winning the ACC title was great, and coming up with an Orange Bowl win – even if it was against Northern Illinois – was strong, but the expectations will always be national-title-or-bust, especially with the great recruiting classes he brought in.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than ten years. Fisher is a good one at a destination program that can be in the hunt for national titles on a regular basis. He’ll get the Noles there again.
5. Al Golden, Miami
Career Record: 40-45
Who turns around Temple? From 1-11 in 2006 to 9-4 and a bowl appearance in 2009, he did the impossible and recruited several great players, and now he’s doing the same at Miami. He took the job with storm clouds brewing, and he has had to try keeping the program rolling even though the school chose not to go to a bowl game in each of the last two seasons and tapped out of playing for the ACC title despite earning the
Coastal's spot. Now that Miami appears to be getting out of the problems, he’ll get to show what he can do.
Hot Seat Status: None. He has a fantastic team coming back with a great offense and just about everyone back on defense, but after all the problems, he’ll be given a few years of grace period.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. Here’s the problem; he actually hasn’t won anything big. He did a great job of making Temple a player, but despite having the most talented team in the league, he never took the program to a MAC championship. He’ll have to start winning ACC titles soon.
6. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Career Record: 149-65
The grand experiment is actually working. It’s now Year Six in the Georgia Tech era after doing wonders with a Navy program that wasn’t going anywhere, and while he won the ACC title in his second year - vacate, schmacate – and broke the bowl hex by beating a lifeless USC in the Sun, he has to do even more after sputtering a bit. At 55, there’s still plenty of time left in his career, but his offensive style isn’t for everyone. When teams get time to prepare for the option, things don’t go well.
Hot Seat Status: There’s a little more grumbling then there probably should be. There’s a hard ceiling on just how good a top program can go with an offense like this – there’s a reason everyone ditched the option in the 1990s – but Georgia Tech has come up with three Coastal titles in five years and one second place finish.
The Coaching Change Will Come … five years from now. The problem will be the lack of patience. One disastrous season will bring out the naysayers who don’t believe in the style, but Johnson is too good to let the program fall off the map.
7. Mike London, Virginia
Career Record: 40-26
The bloom is a bit off the rose after a terrific 8-5 2012 season, but the 52-year-old is still among the better coaching prospects after going 24-5 with a national title at Richmond while starting to turn around the Cavaliers. It’s not the easiest program to make into a consistent powerhouse, but he’s a terrific defensive coach who still might be scratching the surface.
Hot Seat Status: Lukewarm. There will be a problem if there’s another 4-8 season and a third losing campaign in his first four, but the expectations aren’t unreasonably high and there’s still a sense that he’s building up the program.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. He’ll be a good tweener who’s just good enough to make Virginia competitive on a regular basis, but he won’t do quite enough to get a step-up gig.