ACC Coaches On The Hot Seat

By Alan Smith
August 12, 2011 9:35 am
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As we embark on the 2011 season, here's a look at the job security of each college football coach in the ACC.


New Coaches

Randy Edsall, Maryland

Former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall takes over for a Maryland team that finished 9-4 in Ralph Friedgen’s final year.  So far, there have been mixed reviews on this hire.  Edsall did lead Connecticut to a school-first Big East title and BCS game last season.  However, some Terrapin fans view this as a lateral move, especially after the surprise firing of Friedgen, who had a mostly successful tenure in College Park.

Al Golden, Miami

After impressively winning 17 games in his last two seasons at Temple, a previously horrible football program, Al Golden hopes to restore glory in Miami.  On paper, this looks like a good hire given the way Golden turned things around at Temple.  Overall, this looks like a great hire, but given the talent already in place, Golden will be expected to turn things around fairly quickly. 

Everett Withers, North Carolina
After former coach Butch Davis was abruptly fired on July 27, former Tar Heel defensive coordinator was promoted to interim head coach for this season.  Given the unusual situation, this was the best move North Carolina could have made with the season fast approaching.  This season is very much up in the air due to all the turmoil that has hit the program, though.

Completely Safe

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

Beamer is by far the greatest coach in Virginia Tech history and has led the Hokies to seven-straight ten-win seasons as well as three ACC championships in the last four years.  Entering his 25th season in Blacksburg, Beamer will coach the Hokies for as long as he wishes.

Safe For Now

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

In his first season at the helm, Jimbo Fisher led Florida State to a 10-4 record and ACC Atlantic Division title.  This season, expectations are out the roof as the Seminoles find themselves in the preseason top five of the Coach’s poll.  Fisher has done an outstanding job thus far as Florida State’s head coach, but with expectations sky high, the pressure is on for him to turn the Seminoles back into a national title contender.

Frank Spaziani, Boston CollegeIn

Frank Spaziani’s first two seasons as head coach, Boston College actually exceeded expectations.  Then again, the Eagles haven’t been as successful as they were for most of the last decade.  Spaziani is on pace to continue winning seven or eight games a year with Boston College.  As long as the Eagles keep making it to bowl games, his job will probably be safe.

Mike London, Virginia

Although the Cavaliers went just 4-8 in Mike London’s first season and are still in rebuilding mode, London is slowly turning things around in Charlottesville.  London brought in a top 25 recruiting class this season, and so far it looks like he’s going to bring in a similarly talented class next year.  Considering the poor state of the program he took over last year, London definitely has things headed in the right direction, even if it is a slow process.

David Cutcliffe, Duke

By merely making Duke a more competitive program, David Cutcliffe had done a phenomenal job so far in Durham.  In 2009, the Blue Devils almost made it to a bowl game, but finishing 5-7 is impressive at Duke.  Cutcliffe has brought a strong passing game to Duke, and as long as the Blue Devils continue to be competitive and win at least a couple of conference games every year, his job is in no danger.

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

There is no doubt that Wake Forest has fallen off recently, and things aren’t exactly looking up for the program right now.  However, considering Grobe incredibly won the ACC at Wake Forest in 2006, his job will likely always be safe in Winston-Salem.  The being said, it would certainly be a good idea for Grobe to improve upon last year’s 3-9 record.

Heating Up

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Paul Johnson’s first two seasons at Georgia Tech were highly successful, as the Yellow Jackets won the ACC Championship in 2009.  However, the Jackets slid to a disappointing 6-7 finish a year ago, and thing aren’t looking much better this year.  Johnson took over a fairly talented Georgia Tech team a few years ago, but recruiting has not been great recently and the talent level has fallen off a bit.  It also doesn’t help that the program was hit hard by NCAA sanctions recently and stripped of its 2009 ACC title.

Tom O’Brien, N.C. State

Tom O’Brien’s first three seasons at N.C. State were all losing seasons, but the Wolfpack put together a solid 9-4 campaign last year to take some of the heat off of their head coach.  However, O’Brien released star quarterback Russell Wilson during the offseason (Wilson, a top baseball prospect as well, spent the spring playing minor league ball), which was not a popular decision among Wolfpack fans and will undoubtedly make it more difficult for the team to match last season’s success.  O’Brien must show that he can win without his do-it-all quarterback, or else he could be facing the heat once again.

Squarely On the Hot Seat

Dabo Swinney, Clemson

Coming off of a disappointing 6-7 season, the school’s first losing season in 13 years, Dabo Swinney must turn things around if he wants to keep his job.  During the offseason, Swinney actually made some great moves, bringing in highly touted offensive coordinator Chad Morris from Tulsa and signing another top-notch recruiting class.  Should these changes start to pay off this season, he will no longer be on the hot seat.  However, having hired two great coordinators on his staff as well as bringing in some very talented players over the past few years, Swinney has also raised his own expectations.  While few are predicting Clemson to compete for a conference championship this season, if the Tigers fail to win more than six games again, then Swinney’s job will be in serious jeopardy.

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By Alan Smith
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