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ACC coaches on hot seat: Not much heat as turmoil gives way to stability

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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)

Solid ground

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.

Frozen solid

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?

Chip Kelly won’t make QB change despite UCLA offensive woes

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Chip Kelly revolutionized college football back when he was at Oregon, becoming so successful that not one but three NFL teams tried or succeeded in hiring him.

Kelly’s return to the sidelines in the college game however… could be going better. UCLA was blown out of the water on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl by No. 5 Oklahoma and the Bruins offense is actually among the worst in all of FBS.

They’re dead last in yards per play, second to last in total offense and No. 127 in scoring offense. Oh and sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is No. 99 nationally in passer rating.

Despite those numbers, it appears Kelly isn’t contemplating a new face behind center as the team moves into Pac-12 play.

“We didn’t,” Kelly said when asked by the LA Times whether he thought of making a change at quarterback on Saturday. “…we felt confident in Dorian.”

To be fair, Thompson-Robinson did seem a little improved against the Sooners than he did in his first two starts of 2019 against Cincinnati and San Diego State. But those numbers speak for themselves with road trips to Washington State and Arizona coming up for the 0-3 side from Westwood.

Pony Up! SMU off to best start since 1984 at 3-0

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TCU may have moved into the top 25 of the AP Poll this week after dispatching Purdue on Saturday but upcoming opponent SMU is off to an equally hot start coming into Week 4 after topping Texas State.

In fact, it’s a historic one down in Dallas.

As the school noted recently, the 3-0 start to the 2019 campaign is the Mustangs’ best since… 1984. That’s just after the Pony Express days on the Hilltop and right before the program got hammered by the NCAA for major violations.

Sonny Dykes’ tenure got off to a rough start after going 5-7 last season but the team looks much improved thanks in part to the play of Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele.

We’ll see if the two can keep things rolling against the rival Horned Frogs but the AAC might just have another intriguing team in the mix after such a hot start by SMU.

Schools reportedly spent an average of $8,200 on hotel rooms before home games last season

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College football coaches love controlling every element that they can in the lead up to a game in order to minimize distractions. As a result, it’s become common place for nearly every football team in the country to spend the night at a hotel before home games.

Now most folks might think it’s strange to have teams shack up in rooms when they can spend the hours before a game at home but that’s not what schools do. And those hotel bills add up to quite a pretty penny in most cases as an investigation into the practice by Gatehouse Media shows.

In 2018 alone, public schools spend a median of $44,000 on hotels and nearly $5 million total across some 109 programs according to the report. That included low spenders like Coastal Carolina (just $2,800 per game) to those rolling in cash like Texas A&M ($278,000 total, or nearly $40k per home game).

Remarkably the Aggies spent so much because the hotel they stay at requires a two-night minimum and they leave the rooms unoccupied for one of those nights.

“We believe we would be breaking sleep routine if we did not stay in a hotel before a football game,” said OSU Associate Athletics Director Jerry Emig told the site after the Buckeyes spent nearly six figures on hotels for home games. “Ohio State has stayed in a hotel the night before every road game and every home game for more than 50 years.”

There’s some interesting sortable data in the full report, which includes noting that the SEC spends the most rooms on average and the Big Ten the least.

So next time you see the buses pull up to your favorite team’s stadium on a Saturday in college football, just remember it cost a decent chunk of change for the school to house those kids in a hotel prior to the game.

Florida drops in latest Super 16 poll, UCF moves in, UGA-Notre Dame battle set to be a top seven affair

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Uncertainty over Florida’s future without starting quarterback Feliepe Franks is already causing voters to drop the Gators in national polls following the team’s escape at Kentucky over the weekend.

Dan Mullen’s squad dropped two spots to 11th despite winning to move to 3-0 on the season, a good indication that a forthcoming slide might happen in the AP and Coaches Polls as well. They weren’t the only ones to drop however, as Michigan slid from No. 10 to No. 12, Texas A&M dropped out altogether and Oregon moved down a spot to No. 16.

The SEC once again occupies slots 2-4 in the poll and have five of the top 16 teams overall. There was a slight change however as some voters apparently forgot about LSU’s win over new No. 9 Texas and flipped the Tigers with Georgia in the 3/4 spots. That makes the upcoming battle in Athens between the Bulldogs and No. 7 Notre Dame a top seven affair with huge College Football Playoff implications.

It should be noted that three writers (Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett and Bryan Fischer) here at CFTalk have weekly votes in the Super 16 poll. Without further ado, here’s the full rankings heading into Week 4:

  1. Clemson (34 first place votes)
  2. Alabama (8)
  3. Georgia (1)
  4. LSU (3)
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Ohio State
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Auburn
  9. Texas
  10. Utah
  11. Florida
  12. Michigan
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Penn State
  15. UCF
  16. Oregon

Also notable were the debut of UCF in the poll, the highest ranked Group of Five team as a result of their thumping of Stanford down in Orlando.