As we count down the days until kickoff I thought it might be fun to rank the ACC and SEC coaches. I based my rankings on a couple of pretty simple factors: game day coaching ability (X’s and O’s), recruiting and program perception.
It is nothing too complicated. Please remember that this ranking is NOT for entertainment purposes only. These rankings are the gospel and should be treated as such. Fans that disagree are obviously not as football savvy as this here writer.
Before you fire off the email, please also look up the word “sarcasm”.
Now without further adieu, let’s rank the ACC coaches. Tomorrow we will do the SEC coaches.
- Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: This is really a no-brainer. Beamer has turned the Hokies into a perennial power and done it with class (I don’t blame him for the brothers Vick being absolute tools). Beamer remains the poster child for why schools shouldn’t fire a guy after five so-so seasons. That stability has helped Virginia Tech turn into a national power. Plus I love watching the Hokies block punts and score on special teams every other week.
- Jim Grobe, Wake Forest: He took Wake Forest to the BCS with less talent and worse facilities than almost everyone in the conference. He’s so loyal to Wake that he’s turned down better jobs to stay in Winston-Salem.
- David Cutcliff, Duke: Remember when Cutcliff left Tennessee and the Vols offense went in the tank. Remember when he came back and it suddenly improved? Remember Peyton Manning and Eli Manning? Duke is getting better in a hurry with Cutcliff in charge. I doubt he has Grobe like success, but he is going to win some games.
- Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech: Note to coaches, media members and fans across the country: Paul Johnson is not a gimmick coach with a gimmick offense. He is a really great coach that has won everywhere he’s been. No one has figured out his “gimmick” over the past few decades. As long as he’s in Atlanta the Yellow Jackets will be a tough out.
- Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Dabo could move up this list in a hurry. In a year and a half as head coach (just one full season) he’s managed to talk C.J. Spiller and Kyle Parker out of taking millions of dollars elsewhere to remain with the Tigers. He did the same thing with defensive coordinator Kevin Steele when UT offered him a pay raise to leave to Knoxville. He’s recruited well too. Oh, and he won the division in his first season. I’m sorry, that is pretty darn impressive. If he continues at this pace folks in Clemson may start to forget about Danny Ford.
- Butch Davis, North Carolina: I would have Davis high on this list if not for the slime ball factor. The guy clearly knows how to recruit and bring in top flight talent. This was looking like it was going to be his big year at UNC. Then the NCAA knocked on the door. Even some of his assistants (John Blake) seem slimy. Can Davis coach? Yes. Is he worth the baggage? Probably not.
- Tom O’Brien, N.C. State: I know he is on the so-called hot seat in Raleigh and that he hasn’t done as well as expected since he took over at N.C. State. I still wouldn’t bet against this former Marine to get things rolling with the Wolfpack in the very near future. The loons that want to run him out of town should remember the Frank Beamer story: it pays to be patient when you have a smart, classy coach. It will pay off in the long run.
- Ralph Friedgen, Maryland: Things have been pretty rough the past few seasons for Friedgen and maybe it is getting close to time for him to hang up the whistle. That still doesn’t take away from the fact this guy won an ACC title with the Terps and has been regarded as one of the best offensive minds in college football for years.
- Randy Shannon: Miami: Shannon is the anti-Butch Davis. He’s the epitome of class and integrity and cleaned up a Miami program that had one of the worst reputations in all of sports. Now all he has to do is win some big games and get the Hurricanes back in the national spotlight. He’s brought in some talent for sure. Shannon needs to win big soon or undoubtedly the Canes will bring in another scumbag to do whatever it takes to make the program relevant again.
- Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: You never want to be the guy to replace a legend. Fisher is in a tough spot in that regard. However, I think this time next year Fisher will be a lot higher on this list. The Seminoles have a new energy since he took over the program and I suspect they will be back among the elite in the ACC and the country real soon.
- Frank Spaziani, Boston College: The Spaz really should be higher on this list just by virtue of the Tom Selleck mustache he sports. He paid his dues as an assistant at B.C. and did an admirable job stepping in for Jeff Jagodzinski last season. He understands the challenges of the Eagles job and should do a solid job leading the program. He’s the kind of guy you would never envision or recommend for another job, but he’s a very good fit at B.C.
- Mike London, Virginia: I think London will do a good job at UVA. I should put him up three places just as thanks for making sure the ACC world doesn’t have to be bored to death very time Al Groh speaks anymore. However, this is a “show me” ranking and until London wins some games he has to sit at the bottom of the totem pole.