Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
There are two new coaches in the ACC this season, and both of them happen to be in the Atlantic Division. Boston College coach Frank Spaziani took over for Jeff Jagodzinski, and Dabo Swinney took over for Tommy Bowden in the middle of last season.
Which one will have the most success first? Here's a look at what each of them brings to the table:
|Robert E. Klein/Icon SMI|
|Frank Spaziani takes over a team in the midst of an offensive transition.|
Name: Frank Spaziani
Record at BC: 1-0, first season
Overall: 1-0 (Spaziani was credited with BC's 25-24 win over Navy in the 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl while serving as interim head coach following the departure of Tom O'Brien.)
Years at Boston College: 13
Previous position: Defensive coordinator
Head-coaching experience: One game as an interim head coach.
Returning players: 7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist
What he brings: Spaziani's best attributes are his down-to-earth, humble personality and ability to get the most out of his players, but he's also a very smart defensive-minded coach with a plan for the future of Boston College football. He also brings a loyalty to the program, and a guarantee that he's going to stick around. That's something he can convey to recruits, and so far it seems to be working. Spaziani has been on staff for teams that have collectively reached 20 bowl games, so he knows what it takes to get there and his nationally ranked defenses have helped BC do it.
Challenges he faces: Boston College is in the midst of a system change on offense, and is going through it without a dependable leader at quarterback. He also is tasked with keeping the team together and focused in the wake of the news that star linebacker Mark Herzlich has been diagnosed with cancer. The defense also has to replace hulking tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, and it's uncertain how long linebacker Mike McLaughlin will be out with a ruptured Achilles.
Likelihood of pulling off a winning season: Despite the coaching staff change and several glaring question marks, the Eagles aren't starting from scratch. They've got an extremely talented offensive line, and talented running backs in Josh Haden and Montel Harris who can help take some pressure off of the new quarterback. They've also got a deep, experienced secondary and a few veteran leaders to help carry the team in Herzlich's absence. So the pieces are there to keep Boston College competitive, it's just a question of how long into the season it will take before everything clicks.
Early prediction: 5-7, 2-6 ACC
|Marvin Gentry/US PRESSWIRE|
|Dabo Swinney was 4-3 as interim head coach following Tommy Bowden's resignation.|
Name: Dabo Swinney
Record at Clemson: 4-3
Years at Clemson: 6
Previous position: Wide receivers coach/assistant head coach
Head-coaching experience: Swinney was interim head coach from Oct. 13 through Dec. 1, 2008. He has been head coach since Dec. 1, 2008.
Returning players: Offense 7, defense 8
What he brings: Swinney is a salesman, and he's sold everyone in and around the program on his "all in" motto. He started the "Tiger Walk," for his first game as head coach, and his second week, he invited the Clemson students to practice and nearly 1,000 showed up. In his first road game as head coach, Swinney led the Tigers to their first win at Boston College since 1958. He's a top-notch recruiter with a lot of energy, and had the good sense to surround himself with veteran assistants who have been around a little SEC ball. He's young, confident and not afraid to make changes.
Challenges he faces: The biggest challenge is the same one his predecessor faced -- expectations. The 80,000 fans who pack Death Valley on Saturdays are still waiting for the program's first ACC title since 1991. Swinney, like athletic director Terry Don Phillips, took a chance on a young coach when he hired Billy Napier, formerly the tight ends coach, as his offensive coordinator. Swinney will turn 40 in November and Napier turns 30 in July. Together, this will be their first full season calling plays and running the offense. And right now, they haven't decided on a quarterback to lead it.
Likelihood of pulling off a winning season: Most coaches will look at Clemson's roster and, considering the talent returning, tell you there's no good reason why the Tigers' shouldn't have a winning record. Jacoby Ford, C.J. Spiller, a much improved offensive line and one scary defense make this a possible sleeper team. But they've got to settle on a quarterback and find some receivers to help out Ford.
Early prediction: 7-5, 4-4 ACC