Friday, July 13, 2012
ACC's next great coaches
By Heather Dinich
ESPN.com's series on coaches concludes this week with a look at the next great wave of coaches. They can be assistants, coordinators or head coaches who have only begun to scratch the surface of their coaching careers. Here are four rising stars to keep an eye on in the ACC:
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris: It didn't take long after Clemson's ACC championship for Morris to sign a new contract, a six-year deal worth $1.3 million per season. One day after winning the title, Clemson bought itself some staff stability with Morris' upgraded contract. There was speculation he might leave after his first season in Death Valley, as the Tigers' offensive success made him one of the most sought-after assistants in the country. He led the 2011 offense to several school records, including total yards per game (440.8) and points (470). His new contract should keep him on the sideline for a while, but this should be just the beginning for Morris.
Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops: If there is one assistant the Noles can't afford to lose, it's Stoops. FSU fans panicked last year after Stoops' name was linked to several job openings throughout the country. Coach Jimbo Fisher made it clear, though, that Stoops is here to stay -- at least for another season. Stoops has quickly transformed Florida State's defense into one of the best in the country. Don't forget that when he was hired from Arizona, the Noles' defense was ranked among the nation’s worst. If the D is as good as advertised this season, don't be surprised if Stoops' future at Florida State becomes a question again in December.
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora: Fedora has a chance to really make a name for himself in Chapel Hill, and he can do it quickly. There are plenty of pieces in place, especially offensively, for North Carolina to surprise some ACC teams this fall. The biggest hurdles are the loss of 15 scholarships over three years and this year’s postseason ban. The good news for UNC is that, just by hiring Fedora, it has taken the first step to putting the NCAA investigation behind the school, and the program has finally gotten some closure since the sanctions were announced in March. There are plenty of resources at UNC for Fedora to make Carolina a top-25 program and plenty of talent within the state to recruit.
Virginia Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer: Pedigree aside, Beamer has carved out his own reputation as a top recruiter and a good coach. As South Carolina's recruiting coordinator in 2009, Beamer helped the Gamecocks' special teams and defense rank among the nation's best. He was nominated for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year award after that season. He is well-respected by his peers and has paid his dues. After three seasons at Mississippi State and four seasons at South Carolina, Beamer returned to Blacksburg to coach with his father. They have said repeatedly they don't talk about the future of the head-coaching position there, but it's hard to ignore the possibility of the younger Beamer following in his father's footsteps.