The calendar turning over to June means we’re not only approaching the midpoint of the year but also a point in time where we can see the dark days of the college football offseason coming to a close. July brings conference media days and talkin’ season as Steve Spurrier famously noted. August is time for training camps across the country and, oh yes, actual games as the 2019 season kicks off in earnest.
Before all that however, we still have some time to look ahead at what is to come later on this fall. To that end, we at CFTalk have put our heads together to examine a variety of subjects around the sport each week. One such topic this week? The ever popular hot seats for head coaches.
We start in the ACC, where several years of turmoil has given way to remarkable stability. Four new head coaches were added to the league after the 2018 campaign and, aside from a shock departure to a bigger gig or to retirement, it would be not at all surprising to see the entire crop back for the ACC Kickoff in 2020.
Without further ado, a look at the various stages of hot seats in the conference with the defending national champions:
Feeling some heat
Willie Taggart (Florida State)
Seminoles fans were thinking one-and-done for Taggart after the team slumped to a losing record, breaking the prideful streak of 36 consecutive seasons with a bowl game. While he is undoubtedly feeling the pressure from the fan base, the Florida native isn’t about to give up on his dream job so quickly and has specialized in rebuilding programs at past stops Oregon, USF and Western Kentucky. He needs to show progress on the field at FSU in 2019 with a new-look offense but he’ll still have some runway to get the program back to where it should be.
Steve Addazio (Boston College)
It says plenty about the situation Addazio is in that the school didn’t fire him after 2018… but also didn’t give him a lengthy contract extension, instead opting to tack on just two additional years. While he’s gotten the program to solid ground, he’s just 38-38 overall and has never won more than seven games or finished with a winning record in league play. BC isn’t an easy job but there’s still plenty of talk that this could be a huge 2019 for Addazio’s future in terms of breaking through.
The new guys
Mack Brown (North Carolina)
Geoff Collins (Georgia Tech)
Scott Satterfield (Louisville)
Manny Diaz (Miami)
Pat Narduzzi (Pitt)
The Panthers head coach won the Coastal Division last season but is still just 28-24 overall and hasn’t won a bowl game yet at the school. There’s high expectations in the region for the program and the up-and-down nature of the team’s play has contributed to some heat from a fan base that believes they can do better. Narduzzi has a lengthy contract through 2024 so he is unlikely to go anywhere soon however, especially not with the staunch backing of his AD.
Safe and secure
Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech)
Last year’s 6-7 campaign was a tough one for Fuente and company to stomach but he’s still put together two top 25 rankings and nine-plus wins the two seasons prior with the Hokies. The administration is fully behind him and it would take a big backslide for his seat to truly warm up after being the handpicked guy to succeed a legend like Frank Beamer.
Dave Doeren (N.C. State)
The Wolfpack head coach has flirted with other jobs the past couple of years but has remained at NCSU to help develop a really solid all-around program. Doeren has produced draft picks better than anybody but Clemson has in the ACC recently and his 11-5 mark while generally playing the Tigers close also helps his stock. He faces a bit of a rebuilding campaign in 2019 and now has a new AD but everybody is pretty happy down in the triangle with the job Doeren has done.
Dave Clawson (Wake Forest)
Clawson has never won more than eight games with the Demon Deacons but that’s monumental success considering the program is one of the most challenging jobs in the Power Five. He’s guided Wake to three straight bowl wins for the first time ever and recently signed an extension that keeps him in town through 2026.
Bronco Mendenhall (Virginia)
After being one of the most surprising hires around back when he was plucked away from BYU, Mendenhall has underscored why he’s such a good coach by turning around the Cavaliers and making them much more competitive in the ACC. Though he’s only 16-22 overall at the school, everybody is happy with the work he’s done on the gridiron and is hopeful a real run at the division title is not far behind.
David Cutcliffe (Duke)
It’s hard to believe that this will be Cutcliffe’s 12th season in Durham but the noted quarterback whisperer continues to keep the Blue Devils competitive despite the deck stacked against them in football. He’s fresh off producing a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft and still looks energized to keep going for many more seasons despite turning 65 in 2019.
Dino Babers (Syracuse)
Though he’s still below .500 overall with the Orange, it says plenty that there was interest in hiring Babers away from upstate New York this past offseason after capping off a remarkable turnaround campaign in 2018. That included 10 wins, a bowl victory and a top 15 ranking that many had not seen in those parts for decades. Babers recently signed a long-term extension to keep him at Syracuse for many years to come but continued interest from bigger names is bound to keep coming up as the wins keep rolling in.
Dabo Swinney (Clemson)
The man has won two of the last three national titles — beating Nick Saban each time to boot — and just signed a 10 year, $93 million contract that is the richest in the game. The question isn’t whether Dabo’s seat is liquid nitrogen cold but rather when will Clemson get around to building his statue on campus?