banner
Adam Gold

Ranking the best coaches in the ACC

Posted July 25, 2013
Updated July 26, 2013

As we approach the start of the college football season – I'll pause while the inevitable "hallelujahs" and "it's about freakin' times" dissipate – I thought it might be a good time to take a look at our beloved yet changing conference and take stock of certain things.

So, before Jadaveon Clowney decleats Romar Morris, or A.J. Blue or (please, no) Bryn Renner, let's start off the preseason with the first in a series of lists.

Today, we'll talk coaches with the understanding that there are several in the league that we really have no significant data upon which to base anything. So, with the full understanding that Dave Doeren at NC State, Pittsburgh's Paul Chryst, Scott Shafer of Syracuse or the Chestnut Hill dude-seeker Steve Addazzio really aren't rank-worthy at this point, I present the five best coaches in the ACC as I see it. I'll do the best I can to back this list with facts but I also reserve the right to completely make things up if it suits my argument.

So, without further adieu…..

1) Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech (86-55, 12th year)

Johnson doesn't like it when you refer to his offense as a "wishbone" or "triple option," as he prefers the much more media-friendly "spread" that so many schools employ in the highest level of pseudo-amateur football. But, facts are facts. And the facts are that Johnson's five Yellow Jackets teams have averaged 55 rushes against 13 passing attempts since he came to Atlanta for the 2008 season.

But therein lies the beauty of what Johnson has been able to accomplish in his five years at Tech – not to mention the previous six at the Naval Academy. Johnson just wins games. His teams have made it to 10 straight bowl games, he won the ACC in 2009 and he is the rare coach with a winning record away from home, having won 30 of 53 games on the road.

He also has a pair of 1-AA national titles to his credit, winning back-to-back championships at Georgia Southern in 1999 and 2000. The only real negative, other than the obvious allergy to throwing the football, is that he bears a frightening resemblance to author John Feinstein. In fact, I've never seen them in the same room at the same time.

2) David Cuttcliffe, Duke (65-69, 12th year) 

I know what you're saying: "How can you possibly put Cutcliffe – a man with a sub-.500 career record – ahead of, um wait, oh never mind." Now you get the picture.

It was rumored to have been said of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant that he could take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n. The general idea, of course, was that the Bear was so good he could take your players – which were obviously inferior to his at Alabama – and win that game. Is Cutcliffe in that class? Probably not.

But Duke is no longer the laughing stock they've been for the last two decades. Plus, he's the best teller of stories in the league and I'd point out that Cut was over .500 in five years at Ole Miss, essentially the Boston College of the SEC.

Cutcliffe is also 4-2 in bowls, even with last year's gut wrenching loss to Cincinnati in Charlotte. And he has the key to the Manning family guest house in New Orleans. His only drawback is the occasional "too smart for the room" moment, like the fake punt up two scores in the 2nd half against Carolina that nearly cost the Blue Devils the Victory Bell.

3) Dabo Swinney, Clemson (40-21, 6th year) 

We don't make too many "Dabo Dabo Doo" Fred Flintstone jokes about Dabo anymore. Come to think of it, I'm not sure we ever did, as they're really not all that funny. But Swinney has brought the Tigers back to Danny Ford levels.

Well, almost all the way back, sort of like the current condition of Howard's Rock. There's just a small piece missing. Ford won a national championship in 1981 and had seven seasons of two or fewer losses in his tenure.

Swinney has just one such season, plus a conference title – which was unfortunately followed by allowing a million points to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. However, there's no doubt that Clemson has turned the corner and retaken their place among the national football powers.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that could be wishful thinking, but they have the two best returning players in the league in Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins and probably represent the best chance at national credibility for the ACC. The only real negative is that he'll never be able to top fellow Palmetto State head ball coach Steve Spurrier in a war of words.

Tweet that.

4) Jimbo Fisher, Florida State (31-10, 4th year) 

Pardon me for taking a Missouri attitude with Jimbo's status among the coaching elite, and I'm not trying to be overlay critical, but I have my doubts as to whether or not Fisher has a problem functioning on game day.

There is no denying that the program's talent and depth and attitude has returned to early 2000 levels, and in college football talent is about 75 percent of the battle.

But I can't unsee that Thursday night meltdown in Raleigh, and if I didn't know better, I'd swear he had Georgia Tech AND Northern Illinois plus the points in Charlotte and Miami, respectively. With that said, it's pretty obvious that the Seminoles are coming back from the mediocrity that beset the program in the latter, Del Boca Vista days of Bobby Bowden's tenure.

The only negative for me is that I can't understand just about anything Fisher says in interviews. Slow down, Jimbo.

5) Larry Fedora, North Carolina (42-23, 6th year) 

Throw away the initial attitude that made it seem as though he was in the process of reinventing the sport of football and throw away the constant can of Red Bull that was tethered to his right hand at the ACC Football Kickoff media event and you still have a very good football coach who guided his team through a very difficult season and still managed to win eight exhibition games.

Make no mistake about it, last year was always going to be a challenge for Fedora in terms of maintaining his team's focus on each individual opponent. But, in spite of a couple of early road losses and a dramatic, hard-to-swallow loss at Duke, Fedora managed to lead UNC to their first Coastal Division title.

I've seen the rings, folks. They're real.

Others receiving votes

None, remember this was my list and if you received any votes for the top five you were in the top five. If you didn't you weren't.

69 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Boogalooboy Jul 29, 2013

    Always wondered what Roof would have done with the same support as Cut has... The University wasn't interested in football....I would bet that Cut's assistants make as much as Ted did when he was head coach... just wondering..

  • DUKE4EVER Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread



    That's where you are wrong. Coaches are supposed to be nice guys. Nice guys can be coaches.

    That's why Cut is in the Top 5 as a coach and nice guy.....ahead of Beamer.

  • DUKE4EVER Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread


    Read the article, nothing to do with Carl Franks.

    Thanks for playing and giving your best effort.

  • Ramageddon Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Thats why you have had two players dismissed for Cocaine traffiking, and some others for FELONY gun charges. Please 903, quit continuing to prove you are a total jackace. Cut is a great guy, but to say he wants to produce "true student-athletes" moreso than any other coach such as Groebe, Johnson, Beamer, Fedora, etc. is pathetic. All of them are trying to walk that line of balance. At the end of the day, 70% of college football is recruiting, and if you could get FSU/Clemson level of talent at Duke, yeah the ones that probably are not as interested in academics, you would be all over them like homeless people on a plate of sandwiches.

  • Ramageddon Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread

    #SingleMaltScotch

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 27, 2013

    The only hit on Frank Beamer is that he was too loyal to some of his coaches, and it turned into too many loses. I'm one that stated this many times over the past few years on here. We did play FSU in the Finals in 99. Beamer has won 4 ACC Championships since 04. He won the Big East 3 times. VT needs to recruit like they used to do. Has any team in the ACC won more ACC Championships? Logan Thomas is the key for Beamer and our school this year.

  • StunGunn Jul 27, 2013

    View quoted thread



    Interesting perspective, Ken, and a good question. I wonder which coach would be the "hot commodity": Dabo, Jimbo, or Grobe? Good food for thought.

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 27, 2013

    View quoted thread

    I think you're dead on with this one. Coach Cut is one of my favorites, and he has done wonders at Duke, but I don't see he nor Johnson in many other places right now. Cut had an offer from Tenn a few years ago, but Tenn wanted to retain some coaches already on board.

  • 903 PJ suspended til NCAA clears Jul 27, 2013

    View quoted thread



    Duke would pick Cut over all the others. But that's because Duke is in the unique position of wanting to be good at football and also being good at producing true student-athletes.

  • Ken D. Jul 27, 2013

    A different way to look at this would be to consider what would happen if all ACC schools were looking for a new coach, and the only candidates available were the current ACC coaches. How many of them would pick Johnson as their first choice? How many would pick Cutcliffe? My guess is, not many.

More...

 

 

  • MiLB: Bulls vs. Gwinnett

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on METV 50.2

  • ACC: Wofford at Clemson

    Saturday at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Louisville at Auburn

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Virginia at UCLA

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on FOX50

  • WRAL Sports Sunday

    Sunday at 11:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NASL: RailHawks at San Antonio

    Wednesday, Sep. 9 at 8:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • NASL: RailHawks at Minnesota

    Saturday, Sep. 12 at 8:00 pm on WRAL-2

  • Dave Doeren Show

    Wednesday at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Cleveland at Toronto

    Wednesday at 8:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Panthers at Pittsburgh

    Thursday at 7:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • CFB: NC State vs. Troy

    Saturday at 6:00 pm on WRAL-FM

AP Top 25
Thu, Sept 3
4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET11:30 GMT7:30 北京时间4:30 MST6:30 EST
16
 
2
6:00 PT7:00 MT8:00 CT9:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 北京时间6:00 MST8:00 EST
 
7:00 PT8:00 MT9:00 CT10:00 ET2:00 GMT10:00 北京时间7:00 MST9:00 EST
22
Fri, Sept 4
4
4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET11:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST
 
5
4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET11:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST
 
7:15 PT8:15 MT9:15 CT10:15 ET2:15 GMT10:15 北京时间7:15 MST9:15 EST
23
Sat, Sept 5
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
9
 
21
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
 
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
17
 
9:30 PT10:30 MT11:30 CT12:30 ET4:30 GMT12:30 北京时间9:30 MST11:30 EST
12
 
12:30 PT1:30 MT2:30 CT3:30 ET7:30 GMT3:30 北京时间12:30 MST2:30 EST
18
 
12:30 PT1:30 MT2:30 CT3:30 ET7:30 GMT3:30 北京时间12:30 MST2:30 EST
6
 
12:30 PT1:30 MT2:30 CT3:30 ET7:30 GMT3:30 北京时间12:30 MST2:30 EST
13
 
1:00 PT2:00 MT3:00 CT4:00 ET8:00 GMT4:00 北京时间1:00 MST3:00 EST
24
 
1:00 PT2:00 MT3:00 CT4:00 ET8:00 GMT4:00 北京时间1:00 MST3:00 EST
25
 
4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET11:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST
19
 
15
4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET11:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST
 
4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET11:30 GMT7:30 北京时间4:30 MST6:30 EST
14
 
4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET11:30 GMT7:30 北京时间4:30 MST6:30 EST
11
 
20
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET12:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST
3
 
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET12:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST
10
 
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET12:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST
7
 
8:00 PT9:00 MT10:00 CT11:00 ET3:00 GMT11:00 北京时间8:00 MST10:00 EST
8
Mon, Sept 7
1
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET12:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST
 
NFL Preseason
Thursday, Sep. 3
Baltimore 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET22:00
Atlanta 
 
New Orleans 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET22:00
Green Bay 
 
Cincinnati 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET22:00
Indianapolis 
 
Tampa Bay 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET22:00
Miami 
 
Philadelphia 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET22:00
NY Jets 
 
Buffalo 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET23:30 GMT7:30 北京时间4:30 MST6:30 EST6:30 CT3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ET22:30
Detroit 
 
NY Giants 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET23:30 GMT7:30 北京时间4:30 MST6:30 EST6:30 CT3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ET22:30
New England 
 
Carolina 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET23:30 GMT7:30 北京时间4:30 MST6:30 EST6:30 CT3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ET22:30
Pittsburgh 
 
Jacksonville 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET23:30 GMT7:30 北京时间4:30 MST6:30 EST6:30 CT3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ET22:30
Washington 
 
Cleveland 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ET23:00
Chicago 
 
Houston 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ET23:00
Dallas 
 
Kansas City 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ET23:00
St. Louis 
 
Minnesota 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ET23:00
Tennessee 
 
Arizona 6:00 PT7:00 MT8:00 CT9:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 北京时间6:00 MST8:00 EST8:00 CT5:00 UAE (+1)21:00 ET0:00
Denver 
 
San Diego 7:00 PT8:00 MT9:00 CT10:00 ET2:00 GMT10:00 北京时间7:00 MST9:00 EST9:00 CT6:00 UAE (+1)22:00 ET1:00
San Francisco 
 
Oakland 7:00 PT8:00 MT9:00 CT10:00 ET2:00 GMT10:00 北京时间7:00 MST9:00 EST9:00 CT6:00 UAE (+1)22:00 ET1:00
Seattle 
 
MLB Scoreboard
Interleague
Texas 7:10 PT8:10 MT9:10 CT10:10 ET22:10 ET2:10 GMT10:10 7:10 MST9:10 EST9:40 VEN6:10 UAE (+1)9:10 CT
Preview
San Diego 
American League
Tampa Bay 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 MST6:05 EST6:35 VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 CT
Preview
Baltimore 
 
Cleveland 4:07 PT5:07 MT6:07 CT7:07 ET19:07 ET23:07 GMT7:07 4:07 MST6:07 EST6:37 VEN3:07 UAE (+1)6:07 CT
Preview
Toronto 
 
NY Yankees 4:10 PT5:10 MT6:10 CT7:10 ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 MST6:10 EST6:40 VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 CT
Preview
Boston 
 
Seattle 5:10 PT6:10 MT7:10 CT8:10 ET20:10 ET0:10 GMT8:10 5:10 MST7:10 EST7:40 VEN4:10 UAE (+1)7:10 CT
Preview
Houston 
 
LA Angels 7:05 PT8:05 MT9:05 CT10:05 ET22:05 ET2:05 GMT10:05 7:05 MST9:05 EST9:35 VEN6:05 UAE (+1)9:05 CT
Preview
Oakland 
National League
Miami 4:10 PT5:10 MT6:10 CT7:10 ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 MST6:10 EST6:40 VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 CT
Preview
Atlanta 
 
Philadelphia 4:10 PT5:10 MT6:10 CT7:10 ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 MST6:10 EST6:40 VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 CT
Preview
NY Mets 
 
Cincinnati 5:05 PT6:05 MT7:05 CT8:05 ET20:05 ET0:05 GMT8:05 5:05 MST7:05 EST7:35 VEN4:05 UAE (+1)7:05 CT
Preview
Chi Cubs 
 
Washington 5:15 PT6:15 MT7:15 CT8:15 ET20:15 ET0:15 GMT8:15 5:15 MST7:15 EST7:45 VEN4:15 UAE (+1)7:15 CT
Preview
St. Louis 
 
Arizona 5:40 PT6:40 MT7:40 CT8:40 ET20:40 ET0:40 GMT8:40 5:40 MST7:40 EST8:10 VEN4:40 UAE (+1)7:40 CT
Preview
Colorado 
 
San Francisco 7:10 PT8:10 MT9:10 CT10:10 ET22:10 ET2:10 GMT10:10 7:10 MST9:10 EST9:40 VEN6:10 UAE (+1)9:10 CT
Preview
LA Dodgers 
 
ATP Scoreboard
Monday, Aug. 31
US Open (ATP/WTA)
First Round
(16) G. Monfils     
I. Marchenko     
J. Sousa2 2 6 6 64 
R. Berankis6 6 4 2 77 
(14) D. Goffin6 6 6   
S. Bolelli4 1 2   
(17) G. Dimitrov6 6 6   
M. Ebden4 2 4   
M. Cecchinato77 3 1 3  
M. Fish65 6 6 6  
Y. Lu3 3 0   
M. Kukushkin6 6 3   
(4) K. Nishikori4 6 6 66 4 
B. Paire6 3 4 78 6 
M. Ilhan6 2 6 3  
R. Stepanek0 6 4 2  
T. Gabashvili78 0 4 6  
P. Andujar66 6 6 4  
(18) F. Lopez77 6 6   
N. Basilashvi65 1 3   
L. Lacko2 3 1   
M. Granollers6 6 6   
(19) J. Tsonga6 6 6   
J. Nieminen3 1 1   
(25) A. Seppi6 6 7   
T. Paul4 0 5   
(10) M. Raonic6 710 6   
T. Smyczek4 68 1   
F. Verdasco3 6 63 6 6 
T. Haas6 1 77 3 1 
(9) M. Cilic6 77 77   
G. Pella3 63 63   
(27) J. Chardy6 6 66 6  
R. Shane2 1 78 2  
(1) N. Djokovic6 6 6   
J. Souza1 1 1   
(26) T. Robredo6 6 6   
M. Berrer2 2 4   
L. Pouille2 77 2 4  
E. Donskoy6 63 6 6  
F. Mayer77 3 3 0  
M. Klizan65 6 6 3  
S. Stakhovsky6 3 77 6  
J. Millman1 6 63 4  
J. Janowicz3 6 1   
P. Carreno Bu6 4 2   
(7) D. Ferrer4 7 6 5  
R. Albot6 5 1 0  
F. Krajinovic6 6 1   
A. Gonzalez4 0 4   
P. Cuevas6 3 0   
D. Sela2 6 0   
V. Pospisil4 4    
A. Haider-Mau6 2    
(23) R. Bautista A6 6 3   
P. Herbert3 2 4   
E. Ymer3 1    
D. Schwartzma6 3    
(32) F. Fognini 
S. Johnson 
S. Groth 
A. Dolgopolov 
(8) R. Nadal 
B. Coric 
 
WTA Scoreboard
Monday, Aug. 31
US Open (ATP/WTA)
First Round
S. Zheng2 7 5   
M. Brengle6 5 7   
(7) A. Ivanovic3 6 3   
D. Cibulkova6 3 6   
A. Kontaveit7 6    
C. Dellacqua5 2    
S. Kenin3 1    
M. Duque-Mari6 6    
L. Arruabarre2 2    
B. Jovanovski6 6    
(13) E. Makarova6 6    
T. Pereira3 3    
(15) A. Radwanska6 6    
K. Siniakova2 3    
J. Pegula7 6    
A. Van Uytvan5 3    
L. Davis77 77    
H. Watson63 60    
(30) S. Kuznetsova3 5    
K. Mladenovic6 7    
(23) V. Williams6 67 6   
M. Puig4 79 3   
M. Linette77 6    
U. Radwanska63 1    
(21) J. Jankovic6 5 3   
O. Dodin2 7 6   
A. Friedsam1 1    
K. Kanepi6 6    
(17) E. Svitolina6 6    
E. Kulichkova1 4    
(31) A. Pavlyuchen6 7    
M. Rybarikova4 5    
(8) K. Pliskova2 1    
A. Tatishvili6 6    
(10) C. Suarez Nav1 65    
D. Allertova6 77    
I. Falconi6 6    
S. Crawford4 2    
P. Hercog6 7    
Z. Diyas2 5    
K. Kozlova4 3    
B. Mattek-San6 6    
(25) E. Bouchard6 3    
A. Riske4 3    
(29) S. Stephens4 2    
C. Vandeweghe6 4    
D. Kasatkina6 3    
D. Gavrilova2 2    
D. Hantuchova2     
M. Doi4     
(12) B. Bencic4     
S. Karatantch1     
K. Bertens3 2    
M. Lucic-Baro6 1    
A. Konjuh6 2    
T. Maria4 0    
V. King4     
R. Vinci5     
(19) M. Keys 
K. Koukalova 
T. Smitkova 
A. Mitu 
(1) S. Williams 
V. Diatchenko