Athlon ranks every coaching job in ACC
Since 2006, only two conferences - the ACC and SEC - have at least two teams with a national championship. The pieces are in place for both Clemson and Florida State to contend for a national title on a consistent basis, and it's a close call between these two programs for the top job in the ACC. The Tigers get a slight edge over the Seminoles in Athlon's ACC jobs ranking, but there's no wrong answer at No. 1. Miami and Virginia Tech headline the next tier, with NC State rounding out the top five.
Ranking the jobs for every FBS conference is no easy task. After all, the rankings are subjective based upon numerous factors, but we have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money, ability to recruit talent — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach?
Ranking the ACC Coaching Jobs
14. Wake Forest
Good coaches have been able to win some games at Wake, but no one has been able to sustain success: Since the inception of the ACC in 1953, only twice have the Demon Deacons been able to string together three straight winning seasons, and they’ve never done it in four straight.
Duke struggles with some of the same issues as Wake — lack of tradition, small fan base (as a private school), competition for players (as one of four ACC schools in the state) — but it has a better brand nationally, thanks to the success of the basketball program and the superior reputation of the school.
12. Boston College
Boston College is a program with a better history than most realize, but the Eagles have made only one appearance in the national rankings in the last 10 seasons. Location is a huge issue. The recruiting base is not good, and the school will always have a tough time beating out other schools in the ACC for players from the South.
A national power in the 1950s and ’60s and a consistent top-20 program in the ’80s and ’90s, Syracuse has tumbled down the college football food chain since the turn of the century. It obviously can be done — Dino Babers won 10 games last season — but the Orange have too many built-in disadvantages when compared to many other programs in the league.
The move to the ACC has not been ideal for this program. The Panthers can compete — they’ve been to a bowl game in all but one season since joining the league in 2013, but they’ve also never won more than eight games over that stretch.
Virginia’s historical lack of success is one of the big mysteries in college football. George Welsh had a nice run in the 1980s and ’90s, but the Cavs have otherwise had trouble fielding a consistently competitive program. It’s a great school academically, and it’s located in a state that produces a ton of top talent.
8. North Carolina
There are plenty of positives about this job — great school, great location, etc. — but there’s also a reason North Carolina hasn’t won a league title since 1980 and only once has strung together back-to-back winning ACC seasons since the mid-1990s. Maybe it’s the fact that basketball is king at UNC. Maybe the school isn’t committed quite like some of the top programs in the league.
7. Georgia Tech
Here’s a stat that might surprise you: Dating back to 1995, Georgia Tech has been .500 or better in the ACC in all but one season. That’s a remarkable track record of consistency. This job has its challenges — recruiting can be tough (high standards and a lack of majors at the school) and you are the second-most popular team in your own city (thanks Georgia) — but few non-elite programs have a higher floor.
There is a strong commitment from the Louisville administration and a decent track of record of success (eight straight winning seasons from 2010-17), but this program doesn’t have a very strong recruiting base, and life in the ACC Atlantic can be tough.
5. NC State
A chronic underachiever, NC State is showings signs of living up to its potential. The facilities are good, the recruiting base is strong and the fan support is outstanding. This should consistently be the best of the four ACC programs in the state of North Carolina.
4. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech was on the cusp of breaking into college football royalty before taking a step back over the last seven years. Still, this is a great job with a great recruiting base in-state and one of the top home fields in the sport.
We’re almost two decades removed from the last great Miami team, but this is a highly desirable job due largely to its location in the middle of one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the nation. There are some drawbacks — no on-campus stadium, fickle fan support — but Miami is still a destination job.
2. Florida State
You can win a national championship at Florida State — the school won it as recently as 2013 — and there are a ton of built-in advantages due to the school’s location, but there are also some difficulties (just ask Jimbo Fisher) that keep it from being a top-five job nationally.
No program has changed its lot in life over the last decade more than Clemson. Long considered a sleeping giant, Clemson has emerged as a superpower thanks to the work of Dabo Swinney and his staff and a huge commitment from the school. This will be an elite program for the foreseeable future.