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Caulton Tudor

Doeren, Addazio hope to elude ACC's busy "firing squads"

Posted July 30, 2013

As ACC newcomers Dave Doeren of North Carolina State University and Steve Addazio of Boston College touched the various summer interview bases at the ACC Kickoff last week in Greensboro, optimism prevailed on both sides of the question/answer equation.

That particular dynamic has been a staple of the new coaches' indoctrination process dating back to the very formation of the ACC.

It may seem illogical these days, but the ACC was formed in 1953 explicitly for the purpose of improving its member schools' football fortunes. Basketball had nothing to do with it. Only two founding schools – Duke and N.C. State – even put any sort of unusual emphasis on basketball.

Eight schools broke away from other leagues in order to create a regional football operation that was intended to match similarly sized leagues in wins, national attention and ticket sales.

Basketball quickly took control, but the vision of football success is at least somewhat rekindled with the arrival of any new coach.

But although Doeren and Addazio said all the right things, smiled effortlessly and made favorable first impressions all around, the reality is that both men likely will be fired long before achieving any sort of lasting success.

In the entire history of the ACC, only a few coaches have made harmonious exits, and several of those were retirees during an era when few coaches had much desire and certainly no strong financial incentive to stay active deep into their 60s.

That group includes program patriarchs Frank Howard (Clemson), Bill Murray (Duke), Earle Edwards (State) and to some degree, George Blackburn (Virginia) and Tom Nugent (Maryland).

Otherwise, the ACC has a history of hiring and firing football coaches with numbing regularity.

The last two coaches to leave ACC schools entirely on their own terms were Tom O’Brien (Boston College to N.C. State after the 2006 season) and George O’Leary (Georgia Tech to Notre Dame after the 2001 season).

Neither case ended well. O’Brien was fired by the Wolfpack after the 2012 season and O’Leary never coached a game at Notre Dame. He was forced to resign after his resume was found to include irregularities.

NCSU has fired three straight coaches – Mike O’Cain, Chuck Amato and O’Brien – since Dick Sheridan resigned as the result of medical problems after the ’92 season. Before Sheridan was hired in 1986, the Pack axed Monte Kiffin and Tom Reed after three seasons each.

Since Edwards retired in 1970 after serving 17 seasons, no State football coach has lasted more than seven seasons, although Sheridan almost certainly would have stayed longer had his health held up. 

Over the past 10-20 years, most of the dismissed ACC coaches have been handsomely rewarded for their time. Salaries have soared, but the big contracts have only accelerated the league’s revolving football doors.

Sweet 16 dodged the axe

Here are the rare exceptions to that process. These are the select few – a sweet 16 – who dodged the ACC’s football trapdoor, as opposed to the 55 who didn’t:

  • Charley Pell went 18-4-1 overall (10-1-1 ACC) in 1977 and ’78 at Clemson, then bolted to Florida.
  • Ken Hatfield followed Danny Ford at Clemson and was 32-13-1 in four seasons but took the Rice job in 1994 when Clemson refused to give him a one-year contract extension.
  • Steve Spurrier went 20-13-1 at Duke in 1987-89 and then took the Florida job.
  • Bobby Bowden “retired” at Florida State after 2009, although he was essentially forced out.
  • Bobby Ross was forced out at Maryland, landed at Georgia Tech the following season (1987) and led the Yellow Jackets to a share of the 1990 national title. He left after an 8-5 record and a bowl win in 1992 to take the NFL San Diego Chargers job.
  • George O’Leary resigned at Georgia Tech after 2001 to take the Notre Dame job, but was almost immediately released by the Irish.
  • Jim Tatum coached Maryland to the 1953 national title and a 10-1 record in 1955 before leaving for North Carolina, his alma mater. He then went 19-17-3 with the Tar Heels over the next three seasons before his death in July of 1959.
  • Jerry Claiborne went 77-37-3 in 10 seasons at Maryland, then left for Kentucky after going 4-6-1 in 1981.
  • Bill Dooley won three ACC titles in 11 seasons at Carolina, then left after 1977 to take the job at Virginia Tech. Dooley returned to the ACC in 1987 and had a 29-36-2 record in six seasons at Wake Forest before retiring in 1992.
  • Mack Brown went 69-46-1 at Carolina before taking the Texas job after the 1997 regular season.
  • Lou Holtz revitalized NCSU during his four seasons but then left for the New York Jets after 1975.
  • Bo Rein followed Holtz and had a 27-18-1 record in three seasons and left for LSU after taking the Pack to the 1979 ACC title. Only 34, he died in a plane crash on Jan. 10, 1980, before ever coaching a game for LSU.
  • Dick Sheridan went 52-29-3 in seven seasons at State, but resigned as a result of medical problems after his ’92 team finished 9-3-1.
  • George Welsh retired after 19 seasons at Virginia in 1981.
  • John Mackovic had a 14-20 record in three seasons at Wake Forest and could have returned for a fourth in 1981, but he left when offered the job as offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Tom O’Brien jumped from Boston College to NCSU after the 2006, but was fired by the Wolfpack after last season.
42 Comments

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  • Hokies94 Aug 3, 3:31 p.m.

    I really don't care much about Boston College. I will guess that Doeren should have 4 years to prove himself. If the team wins in his first two years, he will receive an extension.

  • jchristian Aug 1, 11:13 a.m.

    Actually I am surprised that WRAL's legal team has not pulled this article. Nothing in the article supports the headline "Doeren, Addazio hope to elude ACC's Busy 'Firing Squads'". Show me where Doeren has concern of being fired.

    In fact statements "although Doeren and Addazio said all the right things, smiled effortlessly and made favorable first impressions all around" in the article contradict Tudors attempt to make the news or create fear in the ACC fan base that all new ACC coaches know they are going to fail and get fired.

    So the question: "Is this award winning Sports Writing? or just drivel to fill a quota?" NC State's Campus is directly across the street (Western BLVD) from WRAL offices, Go out an get some news and not make up catchy unsupported headlines.

  • olivechapel1000 Aug 1, 10:39 a.m.

    I would think that if he does well, he will leave and go to the SEC.

  • InTheNo Jul 31, 9:10 p.m.

    ^^^ phillip. For your first; I'll have to give you some huge kudos with your History of these... View More

    — Posted by Hokies94

    And to be able to get away with not having the players go to real classes and recruiting with the promise of cars and parking provided at no cost must be a huge, huge advantage for getting "minor league" pro players to come and play at your "university". Having the commissioner of the conference sponsor this for you makes it unbeatable.

  • InTheNo Jul 31, 9:09 p.m.

    Well, if Doorun loses his first 2 games to UNC, the rumblings will start. If he loses 3 in a... View More

    — Posted by rduguyhere

    Bull. 11-1 with three losses to Carolina and from the championship game we'll just be asking "what happened to that team of cheaters?"

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Jul 31, 8:35 p.m.

    Well, it's kind of depressing to say that ACC football coaches are hired to be fired. Other than Roy and K, there are a lot of ACC basketball coaches that don't last very long either. Guess that's just the way it is in the ACC.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again03 Jul 31, 7:09 p.m.

    Tudor was clearly appealing to the local audience. Nothing wrong with that. WRAL's gotta make money.

    Just don't deny that is what they were doing with this article.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again03 Jul 31, 7:06 p.m.

    Exactly. UNC fans seem to forget that UNC has had about as many football coaches as State has... View More

    — Posted by rherring23

    Somehow, State fans seem to believe that this column was written about NC State coaches. A lot... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Did you check the pictures included with this article?

    Did you catch the NC State emphasis in... View More

    — Posted by TruthBKnown Banned Again03

    When you refer to UNC as "chapped hole", you just make my point. You can only see... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    I made a very valid case as to how this article had a distinct emphasis on NC State. But all you did was focus on chapped hole. I guess that was easier than admitting I was correct.

    I make no bones about my love for the Pack. But I am also capable of objective thought. I don't support all things NC State, or deny things they have done wrong. That is what our loveable little friends in light blue do.

  • phillipmcdowell Jul 31, 5:51 p.m.

    VT is struggling now because someone forgot how to do this. Recruitment and discipline.

    Hokie High 94, my brother is a Tech grad (my Dad would have said VPI) so I get an earful about the program in Blacksburg.

    It is about time to promote Coach Beamer to a job in the President's office, otherwise you guys are going to have another Bobby Bowden situation. They could make him an assistant to the school president - let him go around the state to raise money, recruit students and athletes. That frees up the Athletic Dir to make a new hire, whether it is a promote from within or go outside. Personally, I think they've waited too long to give the job to Bud. That could turn into another Amato deal where - He's been an assistant his whole career, Conv Wisdom had it that he could be the head coach until he was the head coach. If Bud really wanted to be the head guy, he probably should have left Tech for a job at a lower profile school to get experience and prove he could do it. Just MHO...

    Good luck this year, too bad we don't play each other...Later

  • Ken D. Jul 31, 5:33 p.m.

    just like being at UNC.

    — Posted by shakennotstirred

    Exactly. UNC fans seem to forget that UNC has had about as many football coaches as State has... View More

    — Posted by rherring23

    Somehow, State fans seem to believe that this column was written about NC State coaches. A lot... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Did you check the pictures included with this article?

    Did you catch the NC State emphasis in... View More

    — Posted by TruthBKnown Banned Again03

    When you refer to UNC as "chapped hole", you just make my point. You can only see things through rose colored glasses. Enjoy your conspiracy, if it makes you sleep better. I prefer not to play those games.

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