The Godfather of ACC Football Coaches is Bobby Bowden. His presence in Tallahassee resulted in a reign of FSU dominance across the conference. The only coach to match that success is Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. This league has 2 coaches with a National Title, 3 others who have guided a team to a NY6 Bowl, a few that are still looking for that breakthrough season and the rest just getting started. This group as a whole isn’t a star studded list, but quite a few overachieve in comparison to their resources. I have listed the 14 current ACC Head Coaches below based on a collection of current success, career success, ethics and maximizing their resources. If you’re looking for a great college football & NFL Podcast, subscribe to The Irrational Confidence Podcast (@IRConfidencePod on Twitter), available on all podcast platforms and the Spinnable Sports YouTube Channel. We just dropped our NFL Schedule Release reaction episode and you can also find our NFL Draft reaction episode in the same spot.
1.). DABO SWINNEY: CLEMSON TIGERS
- Love him or hate him…..he has accomplished the tasks assigned to every college football coach
- 1 of 5 Head Coaches with a National Championship (2 Titles) and lost in 2 other National Title Games
- Guided the Tigers to the CFB Playoff 6 times. (6-4 CFB Playoff Record)
- Has won 10 ACC Atlantic Divisions
- Has won 8 ACC Championships
- Career Record of 161-39 and 11-8 Bowl Record
- Recruits at a very high level
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 23RD. VS FSU
2.). MACK BROWN: NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
- 1 of 5 active Head Coaches with a National Championship and coached in a 2nd Championship game vs Alabama
- Guided UNC to the Orange Bowl in 2020
- Guided UNC to the ACC Championship Game in 2022
- Has recruited well at Texas and UNC, but the results haven’t always matched
- If the Tar Heels could play defense under his watch, they would have much more recent success
- 2023 is a big test for his 2nd stint in Chapel Hill.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: NOVEMBER 18TH. AT CLEMSON
3.). PAT NARDUZZI: PITT PANTHERS
- 62-41 record at PITT
- Won the ACC in 2021 and also guided the Panthers to the ACC Title Game in 2018
- Won at least 8 games in 5 of his 8 seasons in charge
- Got PITT a NY6 Bid (Peach Bowl)
- Can recruit…Kenny Pickett, Jordan Addison & Calijah Kancey
- Gets significant wins…#2 Clemson in 2016, #2 Miami in 2017, #15 UCF in 2019, Tennessee & Clemson in 2021 and UCLA in 2022
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: NOVEMBER 4TH VS FSU
4.). MIKE NORVELL: FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
- Guided Memphis to a conference title and the Cotton Bowl in 2019
- Recruiting and work in the Transfer Portal has been improving
- 2020 & 2021 were worrisome, but 2022 showed tremendous improvement
- The pressure to win BIG in 2023 is very high…this year will define his coaching trajectory.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 23RD AT CLEMSON
5.). DAVE CLAWSON: WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS
- Has won at least 8 games 4 times since 2017
- 5-2 Bowl Record
- Won the MAC at Bowling Green and the ACC Atlantic Division in 2021
- Recruiting isn’t Top 40 Nationally, but he develops a very competitive roster
- Maximizes his resources and players talent
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: OCTOBER 7TH AT CLEMSON
6.). JEFF BROHM: LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
- Can coach offense with the best of them
- Revived Purdue Football and developed players
- Won the B1G West in 2022 and Beat Tennessee in 2021
- Very competitive with limited resources
- He returns home to Louisville where he was a star QB.
- Must revive Louisville recruiting
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: OCTOBER 7TH VS NOTRE DAME
7.). MARIO CRISTOBAL: MIAMI HURRICANES
- 5-7 in Year 1 on South Beach…very disappointing
- 2 seasons with 10+ wins in 5 years at Oregon
- Won at Ohio State with Oregon, showing he can produce a monumental win
- 2 PAC 12 Titles, but the 2020 version has an asterisk
- Won a Rose Bowl
- All the accolades are great, but considering the resources and recruiting appeal of Oregon and now Miami, it just feels like he can’t handle the BIG TIME.
- His legacy hangs in the balance with the 2023 season….anything less than 9 wins will get the rumors swirling.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: NOVEMBER 11TH AT FSU
8.). DAVE DOEREN: NC STATE WOLFPACK
- Team is always competitive and he develops players
- Just hasn’t taken the next step…..always leaves you wanting more.
- 2021 was a great year, but 2022 was a mix of injuries and not playing to potential
- Wish he could improve recruiting, even keeping elite NC kids home would be huge.
- 2023 is critical for Coach Doeren.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: OCTOBER 28TH VS CLEMSON
9.). DAVE ELKO: DUKE BLUE DEVILS
- Great First Season in Durham with a 9-4 record
- Pressure for 2023 is to match or surpass that success
- Duke requires coaches to maximize their player development due to admission standards and facilities
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 4TH VS CLEMSON
10.). DINO BABERS: SYRACUSE ORANGE
- A great fit for Syracuse Football
- Puts together a solid team every few years, but need consistency
- Must start recruiting better to take the next step
- Can he guide the Orange to a better 2023 than 2022?
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 30TH VS CLEMSON
11.). JEFF HAFLEY: BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES
- Developed WR Flowers and Former QB Phil Jukovic
- Tough to recruit Nationally to Chestnut Hill, so he must continue to develop his players.
- Lacking signature wins but team is relatively competitive…beat SEC opponent (Missouri) in 2021.
- Goal for his coaching growth is to target 8 wins.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 16TH VS FSU
12.). BRENT PRY: VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES
- Entering Year #2 in Blacksburg
- The Hokie defense must improve for this team to compete
- Recruiting has fallen off and if that doesn’t improve, then the pressure really falls on player development
- Lane Stadium can be a tremendous asset when the team is good.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: OCTOBER 7TH. AT FSU
13.). TONY ELLIOTT: VIRGINIA CAVALIERS
- Struggled in Year 1 and Year 2 saw his team experience a tragic situation, cannot fault him for the program because his real life guidance has been superb.
- He was hired because he produced lethal offenses at Clemson and that side of the ball must carry this team.
- Must recruit much better and get UVA back to a competitive status.
- Too new to rate, but the 2023 squad needs to win at least 5 games to show progress.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 2ND. AT TENNESSEE
14.). BRENT KEY: GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS
- Promoted from Interim HC at the end of the 2022 campaign
- Georgia Tech Football Alum
- Team showed energy under his watch
- Too new to rate but I think he understands what Tech is and will get them back to respectability.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: NOVEMBER 25TH. VS GEORGIA
The next installment of my Power 5 Head Coach Power Rankings will head to the Big 12. This is a wide open conference in recent years, so the battle for the top spot is very debatable. You can find a great article regarding the ACC and potential realignment ideas written by our Legal Eagle on Spinnable Sports.com. My Irrational Confidence Podcast Co-Host also penned an article looking at the ACC / BIG 12 /PAC 12 and their media negotiations.