ACC fans often search for a big-picture explanation as to why the conference has struggled so much in recent years, but one of the most overlooked answers is obvious: coaching.
That’s not to say the ACC doesn’t have quality coaches -- Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer is the winningest active coach in the country. Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe is underrated, and Duke coach David Cutcliffe finally got the Blue Devils to their first bowl game since 1994. Turnover, though, has run rampant through the league at the head coach and coordinator positions, and this year is no exception. Boston College and NC State -- both in the Atlantic Division -- will be breaking in first-year head coaches and new staffs in 2013. Maryland’s Randy Edsall will be entering his third season, but it will also be the program’s last year in the conference. Florida State has had to replace its defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops, who left to become head coach at Kentucky.
Considering the work that needs to be done in both Raleigh and Chestnut Hill, there’s a good possibility we can see the balance of power shift in 2013 back to the Coastal Division, but even there tenure is hard to come by.
Al Golden at Miami is entering his third season, and Larry Fedora will only be in his second season at North Carolina. Virginia fired defensive coordinator Jim Reid and will be turning to a new, more aggressive philosophy. Every year it seems like there is at least one school starting from scratch. The ACC is certainly not alone in the coaching carousel -- it’s common practice in college football. The conference has made it a trend, though, and there is something to be said for continuity. It takes time to build recruiting classes and develop them. FSU fans should not be so quick to criticize Jimbo Fisher, and Miami fans should be thankful there was nothing to the rumors connecting Golden with other head-coaching vacancies. When trying to get back to national relevance, one of Miami’s biggest setbacks has been a lack of staff stability.
That might be a microcosm of the entire conference.
Take a look at the tenure of current ACC head coaches and their winning percentages:
Steve Adazzio, Boston College: 0 years at school
Dave Doeren, NC State: 0 years at school
Larry Fedora, North Carolina: 1 year at school (.667)
Randy Edsall, Maryland: 2 years at school (.250)
Al Golden, Miami: 2 years at school (.542)
Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: 3 years at school (.750)
Mike London, Virginia: 3 years at school (.432)
Dabo Swinney, Clemson: 5 years at school (.650)
David Cutcliffe, Duke: 5 years at school (.350)
Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech: 5 years at school (.606)
Jim Grobe, Wake Forest: 12 years at school (.497)
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: 26 years at school (.673)