Sunday, May 31, 2009

Best Coach in the ACC? Well That Depends

Who is the best football coach in the ACC? A few weeks back, I did a ranking of SEC Coaches based purely on statistics like record, championships, and recruiting; so now it's the ACC's turn.

One of my biggest complaints (and readers too) was not taking a coaches recent record (last four seasons) more into account - it counted the same as everything else. Another one was comparing recruiting rankings to actual record to see who is developing their talent the best.

Long story short, I looked at three different ways for ranking the ACC coaches using the above methods. Results were mixed to say the least.

Using record, championships, recruiting rankings, and recent record all with even weight, Florida State's Bobby Bowden came out on top greatly helped by his overall record and ACC Championships. Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer finished second and Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech third.

Putting a much heavier emphasis on recent record (50% of value), Beamer comes out on top, Bowden slips to second, and Johnson comes in third again.

Simply looking at your recent recruiting rankings (last four classes) versus your recent record, Wake Forest's Jim Grobe dominates the rankings. Grobe's classes are ranked last in this coaching set (see note below), even ranking behind Duke, but the Deacons coach has the third best record over the last four seasons.

So you can take which ever ranking you feel is most appropriate and form your own opinion. I thought all three were pretty good so I just combined all three into one ranking (mostly).

Vote in the poll for who you think is the best coach in the ACC.

1. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Beamer's 79 percent ACC winning percentage ranks second only to Bowden's. Beamer also has three ACC Championships. Where Beamer surpasses everyone is with a 78 percent winning percentage over the last four seasons doing it with recruiting classes ranked lower than FSU's.

2. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Only one year in the ACC, but it was a pretty good one at 9-4. Johnson also has won two national titles in his coaching history and fared very well recently with a 69 percent wining percentage over his last four seasons coaching.

3. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
My first break from the statistics here with Grobe actually finishing behind Bowden accoring to the stats. But if you look at what Grobe has done with the recruiting classes he has brought in, it is astonishing. Grobe ranks last in the recruiting rankings over the last four years, but has the third best record during that time span - and an ACC title to boot. Also, Grobe has three in a row over Bowden and FSU.

4. Bobby Bowden, Florida State
Despite recent troubles, Bowden deserves to be near the top of the list because of his outstanding accomplishments in the ACC - 12 ACC titles and 2 national titles. And "recent troubles" is relative because he can still coach and recruit a little with a recent record that ranks fourth in this set.

5. Tom O'Brien, NC State
The Navy graduate jumped ship from Boston College to NC State two years ago and is rebuilding the Pack into an ACC contender. O'Brien scores middle of the pack in most everything, but has done fairly well record wise compared to his recruiting rankings at Boston College and NC State.

6. Ralph Friedgen, Maryland
The Maryland coach ranks middle of the pack across most everything as well. Ralph has something that only three other coaches in this league have - an ACC title.

7. Butch Davis, North Carolina
Many will say Butch Davis built the 2001 National Championship team at Miami and you would be right. But sadly Butch left for the Cleveland Browns before that season. The more you count in the Miami years, the higher Davis ranks, but he has yet to break out in Chapel Hill. Could this be the year?

8. Al Groh, Virginia
Probably the coach with the biggest hot seat in the ACC. When all categories are ranked evenly, Groh is near the bottom. But record wise he has done better than average when compared to his recruiting classes.

9. Randy Shannon, Miami
If Groh is number one on the hot seat, then Shannon is number two. The former Miami LB has brought in some stellar recruiting classes thus far, but that talent has yet to perform to that high level on the field.

10. David Cutcliffe, Duke
The second year Duke coach had a better season than most have had in Durham, but it still fell to the bottom in the ACC. A bright spot is Duke's improved recruiting in the last few years and Cutcliffe's successful run at Ole Miss.

Note: Dabo Swinney of Clemson and BC's Frank Spaziani are not ranked because they have not coached a full season yet.

Vote in the poll for who you think is the best coach in the ACC.

You can check out all the data here.


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  1. You've analyzed it a lot more than me, but I'd say Beamer, then Bowden a close second, then Grobe. And Al Groh last. I can see someone wanting to put Bowden in first for his greatness in the past. Go Hokies!

  2. I would put Groh as #1 on the "hot seat" in the ACC this year considering he fired many of his assts last year. Usually that means the head coach has one last chance to turn things around. But he had some pretty good years that help out his overall record.

    As a VT fan, you should want Groh to do just enough to keep his job.

  3. Brent H.3:23 PM

    How did the poll results come out? I forgot to check back before it got changed to the new one.

  4. Paul Johnson got first place with about 40% (partly because the post got put on a GT board)

    Beamer finished 2nd with about 20% barely beating out Jim Grobe at 19%

    Pretty much every one fell in line after that with a few votes


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