Today our focus will look at the ACC. While the conference has been turned upside down this season with many of the traditional powers struggling, the coaching hierarchy of potential LSU candidates is still clear.
At the top of that hierarch is Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. Having taken over the Tigers in 2008, Swinney has made Clemson a national power with two national championships, seven ACC titles, and a cornucopia of All-Americans and high NFL Draft picks. He has gotten the Tigers where they are by being a dynamic recruiter who consistently puts Clemson near the top of the recruiting rankings.
Sounds like a pretty sweet setup, right? Exactly. It is going to be incredibly hard to pull Dabo away from Clemson, even money aside. Additionally, Swinney is a Bama grad and if Nick Saban were to retire in the near future, Swinney would likely be the top candidate for that job. Regardless if he is at Clemson or LSU.
After Swinney, the field becomes a little more muddled. Two of the coaches who might be considered, who are also having great seasons at Pat Narduzzi at Pitt and Dave Clawson at Wake Forest. Both have winning records despite not being at programs with a ton of resources. Aside from the fact neither one of them has won double digit games at their respective job, the other question is recruiting as neither have strong track records of getting top players. You could also throw in Dave Doeren at NC State in this group as well.
Two intriguing candidates would be Mack Brown at North Carolina and Jeff Hafely at Boston College. Both have been solid surprises since joining their respective programs. Brown, despite being out of coaching for several years and being 70, has been an amazing recruiter since joining the Tar Heels. Hafely is on pace to have two consecutive winning seasons at BC, which isn’t always easy. The question with both is experience. For Brown, do the Tigers want to have a coach who might want to be retiring soon? With Hafley, is he experienced enough not even through his second season as a head coach?
Then there is a group of coaches who, while not bad coaches, haven’t seem to won over their respective fan base. Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia, Justin Fuente (recently just fired from) Virginia Tech, and Manny Diaz at Miami. None bad, but also two of three might be out of a job within the next season or two.
Looking at the coordinator group, the first stop would be at Clemson with OC Tony Scott and DC Brett Venables. Both have been highly sought after for head coaching positions but have not left Clemson. Venables in particular has been adamant about staying at Clemson. A few potentially intriguing offensive coordinators in the ACC include Phil Longo at UNC, Kenny Dillingham at Florida State, and Rhett Lashlee at Miami.
Ultimately, from this conference the move would seem to be Dabo or bust, and with Dabo so entrenched in Clemson, it’s hard to see the next LSU coach coming from the ACC