ACC Football: Top 5 Head Coaches For 2015

To wrap up our series profiling the top players around the ACC, we run down the list of the best head coaches in the league. The coaching talent is certainly impressive and on par with the level of ability on the field, but who are the best whistle men?

5. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

I’ve gone back-and-forth over the years trying to decide if Paul Johnson’s option attack is a highly disciplined scheme requiring precision for maximum effect or if it’s an equalizer that makes less talented teams appear better than they are. I’ve settled on the idea that both are correct. Countless high schools use this style of play because it’s easy to teach, while programs like Georgia Tech and Navy make it work far better with more talented players. Johnson has won everywhere he’s been and even shown that the option can be an effective passing attack with the right skill players, like quarterback Justin Thomas. As a random note, he’s won the Peach Bowl golf challenge two consecutive years but he putts crosshanded which makes him a monster.

4. Bobby Petrino, Louisville

Bobby Petrino has had one of the strangest coaching careers on record with his well-documented tendency to change jobs with frequency whether it’s been of his own volition or not. He’s landed on his feet once again at Louisville and picked up right where he left off. Say what you will about the man’s job history and personal indiscretions, but he knows his football and runs an excellent program. If nothing else, I find him pretty savvy for this quote alone:

There are plenty of coaches unwilling to adapt their scheme to fit the available personnel because of their own personal hubris. It’s nice to see a guy with a proven track record still willing to tinker to find the right mix.

3. Dabo Swinney, Clemson

It took me a while to come around on ol’ Dabo, but I’m finally starting to believe. The man seems to have a knack for motivating his players and they seem to feed off his manic energy. That coupled with very strong recruiting has led Clemson to four consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins and bowl victories over Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma. This season will be an interesting test for his program with the loss of offensive coordinator Chad Morris who left to become the head coach at SMU, but there’s still plenty of talent and plenty of Dabo’s odd brand of boisterous bravado to go around.

2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

It’s hard to argue with a national title winner being considered great, and the man certainly knows how to coach offense. He’s had a remarkable run to start his career but detractors often cite the ease with which Florida State recruits as the key to Fisher’s success. There’s certainly truth to that, but it wasn’t exactly the case when he took over after the rough final years of the Bobby Bowden era. Fisher rejuvenated recruiting and brought a modern offensive attack to Tallahassee that has returned the program to vintage late 1980s/early 90s levels of high octane scoring. He’s got a quarterback

1. David Cutcliffe, Duke

I’ve been bullish on Duke football for a number of years, and while most fans and many talking heads have been dismissive about the longterm prospects of the Blue Devil program, it continues to roll on. What David Cutcliffe has accomplished is nothing short of remarkable. Duke finished first in the Coastal division in 2013 and second in 2014 while winning 19 games. Recruiting continues to improve and the facilities are undergoing a major renovation all thanks to the efforts of Cutcliffe and his loyalty to stay in Durham. They may not wow you all the time, but they will beat you by being sound in all facets and avoiding big mistakes. Cutcliffe is of course a noted quarterback whisperer, helping the Manning boys, Heath Shuler and others on to NFL success. Once again many are saying the Blue Devils will have a tough season with a new QB, but with Cutcliffe at the helm those concerns are likely unfounded.

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