Florida State was not the only program to introduce new assistants during the offseason. Though the Seminoles led the way with the most changes for a program with a returning head coach, 13 of the 14 league schools had staff changes. Only Maryland returns all its assistants from a year ago.
There were some pretty big hires for some of those positions. With that in mind, whom do you think was the best assistant coaching hire in the ACC? I have narrowed the list down to five.
James Coley, offensive coordinator, Miami. This has to qualify as one of the assistant coaching coups in all of college football, as Miami coach Al Golden worked at warp speed to replace Jedd Fisch, stealing away one of the best recruiters in the South Florida area from arch rival Florida State. Coley has had the coordinator title with the Seminoles, but it was in name only as Jimbo Fisher still called the plays. This is a huge chance for him not only to help Miami on the field and in recruiting, but to show Florida State what it's missing.
Scot Loeffler, offensive coordinator, Virginia Tech. Loeffler did not exactly have a great season last year at Auburn, but nobody on that staff did. He was hired, in part, because of his past work in developing quarterbacks at previous stops. And we all know Logan Thomas has got to take the next step this season if the Hokies are going to get back atop the ACC. The results of the spring game weren't exactly ideal, but coaches have said Thomas has definitely made strides this spring.
Tom O'Brien, associate head coach/tight ends coach, Virginia. Coach Mike London made the decision to completely revamp his coaching staff this past offseason, and one coach he knew he wanted to hire immediately was O'Brien, recently fired at NC State. London previously worked under O'Brien; O'Brien spent 15 years working at UVa under former coach George Welsh. Adding a coach with as much experience and knowledge as O'Brien should definitely help a team looking for a turnaround in 2013.
Jeremy Pruitt, defensive coordinator, Florida State. This is what Florida State assistant Sal Sunseri had to say about Pruitt, with whom he worked last season at Alabama. "When I got to University of Alabama, I sat in the press box with that young man through that whole year and we won a national championship, and he was as good as anybody I’ve been in the press box. He knows what’s going on out there. He knew how to make adjustments." Pretty high praise from a veteran who has worked both in the NFL and college football.
Ted Roof, defensive coordinator, Georgia Tech. Roof has wandered around a bit of late but he now returns to his alma mater intent on improving a defense that showed gains in the second half of last season. Last season at Penn State, his defense ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (19.1 ppg), first in sacks (34), first in red-zone defense and third in turnover margin. Before that, he won a national championship at Auburn, which his defense held high-scoring Oregon to 19 points -- 28 below the Ducks' average.
My vote goes to Coley. What say you?