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Friday, June 21, 2013
ACC's future power rankings

By Heather Dinich

Earlier this week, ESPN.com revealed the College Football Future Power Rankings, a ranking of 25 teams projected to have the most success over the next three seasons.

Now it’s our turn.

We’re looking today specifically at the ACC and which teams in the conference are best built to last over the next three years. (Maryland isn't included because it's leaving for the Big Ten next year and, well, this is the future.) Taking into consideration factors like coaching, recruiting and overall program stability, here’s a look at how the ACC might shape up three years from now:

1. Florida State. The recruiting is on par with the SEC, but the coaching staff remains unproven, as there will be seven new assistants this fall. The Noles have yet to truly separate themselves from the rest of the league, and it will only get more difficult with the addition of Louisville to the Atlantic Division.

2. Clemson. The Tigers might not be able to hang on to offensive coordinator Chad Morris, but coach Dabo Swinney has already proved he can make great hires. The staff continues to lure in elite talent, including No. 1-ranked dual-threat QB Deshaun Watson.

3. Miami. Al Golden has already made the Canes a contender again, and he’s done it in the face of self-imposed scholarship reductions. It doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere any time soon, and despite the possibility of more sanctions looming, there is a sense of strong leadership and stability within the program.

4. North Carolina. Larry Fedora has been a difference-maker already, and the staff has recruited well despite the NCAA sanctions. The Tar Heels are working on their second straight top-25 class under Fedora.

5. Louisville. As long as Charlie Strong sticks around, the program can continue to build upon last year’s success, but it will face a more challenging road in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. The Cards currently have the No. 20 recruiting class in the nation, and that could improve with more exposure in the ACC.

6. Virginia Tech. Frank Beamer is one of the best coaches in the ACC, but how much longer will he stick around? There are quarterback questions after Logan Thomas graduates, but the staff currently has the No. 23 class in the country.

7. Georgia Tech. The Jackets are good enough to contend for the Coastal Division every year under Paul Johnson, but with Miami and UNC on the rise, they can’t miss a step in recruiting to stay in the race.

8. NC State. Dave Doeren has some of the best facilities in the ACC, an energetic, young coaching staff to recruit with, and a clean slate. He also has the tall task of closing the gap with Florida State, Clemson and Louisville.

9. Pittsburgh. Paul Chryst has brought some much-needed stability to the program, but the recruiting has yet to crack the class rankings. His first class was a strong effort in the trenches, though, and that should eventually pay off. There should be plenty of talent to choose from between Ohio and Pennsylvania alone.

10. Wake Forest. The Deacs have been extremely pleased with their recruiting efforts over the past two classes, and the future looks bright in Winston-Salem. The only problem is they’re stuck in the same division as FSU, Clemson and Louisville.

11. Virginia. Mike London has proved he can win, as he was named the ACC’s Coach of the Year in 2011 after an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but the Cavaliers took a step back in 2012. If Virginia can find an answer at quarterback -- one that will last a few years -- there’s no reason the Hoos can’t move up the list.

12. Syracuse. Scott Shafer has taken over, and recruiting should be his priority, as the Orange haven’t even been on the rankings radar recently. It's going to take some work to close the gap with the rest of the division.

13. Boston College. Steve Addazio has already injected much-needed enthusiasm into the program, and the staff has recruited well. The challenge now is to continue to recruit at that frenzied pace for three more years.

14. Duke. The Blue Devils got over the hump with their first bowl appearance since 1994, but is it possible to recruit well enough in Durham to make that a regular occurrence? The staff has upgraded the talent under David Cutcliffe, but Duke has to win more than three conference games to gain more credibility in the league race.