ACC coach rankings for 2021: Who is third best coach in conference?


The ACC is the only Power 5 conference that didn’t have a coaching change after the 2020 season. 

The outlook of the conference hasn’t changed much. Dabo Swinney is still on top. He’s led Clemson to six straight ACC championships and six straight College Football Playoff appearances. Swinney has maintained his spot at No. 2 on our 1-130 Coach Rankings, and that likely won’t change until somebody else wins the ACC. 

North Carolina’s Mack Brown is the other top-10 coach in the conference. He’s led an impressive two-year turnaround in Chapel Hill that led to a New Year’s Day Six appearance in 2020. The Tar Heels are the favorites in the ACC Coastal in 2021. 

The rest of the coaches are tough to rank given the parity from 3-11. SN tried anyway. Here are our ACC coach rankings. 

Here’s a deeper look at our ACC coach rankings (overall FBS record in parentheses):  

2021 ACC coach rankings

1 Dabo Swinney Clemson 140 33 .809 2
2 Mack Brown North Carolina 259 132 .662 10
3 Dave Doeren North Carolina State 78 50 .609 29
4 Manny Diaz Miami, Fla. 14 10 .583 31
5 Bronco Mendenhall Virginia 129 75 .632 32
6 Scott Satterfield Louisville 63 36 .636 37
7 Dave Clawson Wake Forest 72 76 .486 43
8 David Cutcliffe Duke 118 117 .502 44
9 Pat Narduzzi Pittsburgh 42 34 .553 45
10 Justin Fuente Virginia Tech 64 49 .566 51
11 Jeff Hafley Boston College 6 5 .545 52
12 Mike Norvell Florida State 41 21 .661 65
13 Geoff Collins Georgia Tech 21 26 .447 69
14 Dino Babers Syracuse 61 52 .540 76

Quick reads   

— There is a case to be made for Miami’s Manny Diaz as the third-best coach in the conference, but the blowout losses to Clemson and North Carolina showed the Hurricanes are a little closer to the rest of the conference. Miami is 2-3 against ranked teams the last two seasons, and Diaz starts the season with the test of all tests against Alabama. 

— Dave Doeren has the same record as Mike Leach the last three seasons. Imagine if the N.C. State coach went viral every other week. The Wolfpack continue to put out a consistent product every year, and they would be viewed differently if they were in the ACC Coastal Division. The bounce-back from a dismal 2019 season was impressive.

— Boston College’s Jeff Hafley is a candidate to continue moving up the list if the Eagles can break the habit of being around .500. BC hasn’t won eight games in a single season since 2009.

—Florida State’s Mike Norvell is the other second-year coach in the conference. Norvell has the second-highest three-year winning percentage behind Swinney, but two of those seasons were in Memphis. Norvell needs to push FSU back to relevance within the next two years. 

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