- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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ESPN.com’s week-long coaching theme continues today with a look at the best coaching jobs in the country, and those on the rise. Who’s got the best gig in the ACC? It’s a no-brainer to say that Duke coach David Cutcliffe has the toughest job in the league. Would you rather coach at Miami and Florida State, though, where the pressure to win a national championship hovers over you every season? Or would you rather quietly plug away at a place like Virginia, trying to win the ACC and build something special? It’s debatable. Here’s one version of the best coaching jobs in the ACC:
1. Virginia Tech: Frank Beamer has proven the Hokies can be national title contenders, and established Virginia Tech as the premier program in the state. The state is loaded with talent, the players can qualify, and Lane Stadium sells itself, especially on a Thursday night.
2. Florida State: This storied program is also in a recruiting hotbed, and it’s willing to spend the money needed to be a national title contender. Beating Florida is a must, of course.
3. Clemson: This is another program where talent and money aren’t problems, and it’s got one of the best game-day atmospheres in college football. Just don’t lose to South Carolina.
4. Miami: It shouldn’t be difficult to lure in top talent to sunny South Florida, and the tradition is already in place. It’s quite an upgrade for a coach coming from, say, inner-city Philadelphia, but you're coaching under a microscope, don't have a stadium on campus, and don't always have the finances.
5. Georgia Tech: Must. Beat. Georgia. In recruiting, on the field and everywhere in between. Otherwise, it’s a top 25 program in the city of Atlanta that has consistently been in the hunt for the Coastal Division title.
6. NC State: The facilities are first-class, the game-day atmosphere is great, and there is plenty of talent in the state to recruit. This can be a consistent top-25 program, and is a job on the rise.
7. North Carolina: Usually this would be higher on the list, but because of the academic black eye the university has suffered, this has to be a tough place to coach right now. Apparently, it's not too difficult to recruit, though.
8. Virginia: There are plenty of in-state recruits to choose from, the campus is beautiful in the fall, and there is lots of potential for growth.
9. Wake Forest: Jim Grobe likes to say he has a “recruiting puddle” at Wake, so you have to know how to find talent and develop it in order to have a chance here.
10. Boston College: You’ve got to like the cold, and have to accept the fact the program is overshadowed by the local pro sports and even the school’s hockey team. It’s a tough task to change that perception, and to convince the bowls your fans will travel.
11. Maryland: Randy Edsall said this was his dream job, but not a lot of coaches want to live in College Park and compete with the Redskins and Ravens for fan loyalty.
12. Duke: If it were easy to recruit here, it wouldn’t be so hard to win. This program is still haunted by its recent history of losing, and until it shakes that shadow and gets back to bowl games consistently, it will be one of the least desirable coaching jobs out there.