Earlier in the offseason, college football experts from CBS Sports and 247Sports participated in a voting process that powers our annual CBS Sports coach rankings. Those rankings take every Power Five coach and line them up from No. 1 to No. 65, but now it's time to use those same results to zoom in on how things look within each of the power conferences.
In the ACC, the separation that Clemson has created with two national championships and six conference titles since 2015 is represented in Dabo Swinney being the only coach who falls in the top 15 nationally. However, after a year that saw Clemson not win the Atlantic Division for the first time since 2014, the coach rankings see a pair of Dabo's division foes move up in Wake Forest's Dave Clawson and NC State's Dave Doeren.
The biggest storyline from an ACC-specific look at the CBS Sports coach rankings is the turnover we've seen in the past year. Duke, Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech all underwent coaching changes this past offseason with three of those four jobs going to first-time head coaches. Our voters have historically started all first-year coaches near the bottom, so it's provided a fairly predictable top, middle and bottom tier when you break out the ACC on its own.
So let's dive in, and do remember this is a ranking that's been extrapolated from our full CBS Sports Coach Rankings, which you can access in the links below.
|Dabo Swinney (3 overall): He may be the only active coach not named Nick Saban to have multiple national championships, but the "down year" of 10-3 did result in Swinney giving up the No. 2 spot in our full Power Five rankings. As far as the ACC goes, there's no argument for No. 1, so Swinney maintains his spot at the top of these breakout rankings while a reshuffled staff looks to reclaim the Tigers' spot at the top of the ACC standings. Last year: 1 in the ACC|
|Dave Clawson (17 overall): An ACC Atlantic Division title, the school's first 11-win season since 2006 and ACC Coach of the Year honors were the culmination of years of program-building in Winston-Salem. Now, heading into Year 9 with the Demon Deacons, Clawson is undoubtedly one of the top coaches in the sport, and when you factor in the unique aspects of reaching this level of success at a place like Wake Forest, it's even more impressive. Last year: 4 in the ACC|
|Mario Cristobal (19 overall): The full Power Five coach ranking for Cristobal didn't change much after Oregon's 10-3 record and top-25 finish in 2021, but his arrival in the ACC and the shakeup with so many coaching changes quickly puts him among the top coaches in the league. Thanks to a roster that includes several promising young stars and key transfer additions, the expectations are that Miami will hit the ground running with Cristobal. He could see his national ranking, as well as his conference ranking, improve quickly. Last year: N/A in the the ACC|
|Mack Brown (20 overall): The 2021 season was undoubtedly disappointing for the Tar Heels, and Brown's coach ranking status suffered as a result. He dropped eight spots in the national rankings, but just two among ACC coaches after North Carolina started the season as a top-10 team in the preseason poll and proceeded to lose three games to unranked teams before mid-October. Still, Brown's a Hall of Famer with a national championship to his name, and he did have the Tar Heels in the Orange Bowl just two years ago. Last year: 2 in the ACC|
|Dave Doeren (25 overall): The Wolfpack beat Clemson for the first time since 2011 and came a canceled bowl game away from winning 10 games for the first time since 2002. But the success of 2021 was not a flash of right place, right time, but rather the culmination of how Doeren has built this program. NC State has a reputation for strong player development and a couple of key recruiting classes have all hit in a way that not only powered last season's success but have the Wolfpack in position for another memorable year in 2022. Last year: 8 in the ACC|
|Pat Narduzzi (27 overall): There was some surprise on my part when I didn't see much of an adjustment for Narduzzi following the program's firs ACC championship and first conference championship since winning a share of the Big East in 2010. Narduzzi has finished with a losing record in conference play just once across seven seasons -- a 5-7 (3-5 ACC) finish in 2017. Every other year has included a bowl game or bowl eligibility, and now he's got a conference title and two division crowns to his name. Last year: 6 in the ACC|
|Jeff Hafley (34 overall): If you want to get a sense for the growing momentum behind Hafley's trajectory -- at least in the eyes of our CBS Sports and 247Sports voting body -- then just look at how he's moved in the coach rankings. Hafley started at No. 14 as a first-year coach fresh off his hire from being Ohio State's defensive coordinator. He then moved up to No. 9 after an impressive debut that included wins against Pitt and Louisville, as well as a strong challenge to Clemson on the road. Then, even with notable injury issues, the Eagles picked up enough November wins to reach bowl eligibility in Hafley's second year to boost him up to No. 34 in the national rankings. Last year: 9 in the ACC|
|Scott Satterfield (43 overall): There's some major ping-pong action for Satterfield after finishing No. 6 among ACC coaches in 2020, then falling to No. 11 in 2021 and now settling somewhere in between at No. 8. That's what you're going to get when the Cardinals exceed expectations in Year 1, fall way short of those raised expectations in Year 2 and then grind their way to a bowl in Year 3. Last year: 11 in the ACC|
|Mike Norvell (47 overall): Few coaches in the ACC are under more scrutiny to succeed than Norvell, who could definitely see this ranking get adjusted before next offseason with even a successful showing on the home schedule. Key toss-up games like Boston College and Wake Forest are in Tallahassee, and the season finishes with both reigning Sun Belt champion Louisiana and rival Florida coming to Doak Campbell Stadium. Last year: 10 in the ACC|
|Dino Babers (56 overall): On paper, the jump from No. 14 to No. 10 is significant, but some of that is due to the coaching turnover. Babers has delivered one excellent 10-win campaign in his six years as coach of the Orange, but every other season has ended without a bowl appearance. This isn't a program that's lost, but it needs to flip some of the close losses -- Syracuse lost to Clemson, Wake Forest and Florida State by a combined nine points in 2021 -- into close wins to turn the tide. Last year: 14 in the ACC|
|Geoff Collins (58 overall): Three straight three-win seasons prompted Collins to shuffle his staff, and that group worked the transfer portal hard to bring some potentially job-saving additions to the Yellow Jackets' roster. Georgia Tech annually has one of the toughest schedules in the country, so it's tough to set a realistic bar for success, but a fourth straight three-win season won't be enough to say things are moving its a positive direction. Last year: 13 in the ACC|
|Tony Elliott (60 overall): Of the three coordinators who got ACC head coaching jobs this past offseason, Elliott is the one who experienced the most success as a Broyles Award winner and two-time national champion as an assistant. Virginia's investment in Elliott, and in the football program he's looking to build, is notable and encouraging for where he can take the Wahoos. Our rankings have a short memory, however, and if he wants to jump ahead of other Power Five coaches, this potentially potent Virginia offense needs to have success in 2022. Last year: N/A in the ACC|
|Mike Elko (64 overall): The money faucet at Texas A&M helped Jimbo Fisher call on some of the top coaches in the game, and it allowed Elko to be well-compensated while coaching in one of the most competitive environments in the country. However, a majority of his career has been not in massive SEC West stadiums, but in smaller, program-building settings. The experiences at Richmond, Hofstra, Bowling Green and even Wake Forest will be as valuable as his four years at Texas A&M, as Elko looks to build upon the work that David Cutcliffe did to raise the floor and change the expectations for what Duke football can be. Last year: N/A in the ACC|
|Brent Pry (65 overall): This is a coach ranking and not a prediction of 2022 success, clearly, because Pry and the Hokies are more likely to be in a bowl game than several of the coaches mentioned above at the end of the season. But our voters have always been biased against a lack of success, and on paper, the jump from co-defensive coordinator to Power Five head coach is notable. Among the many reasons Pry got the job were his roots in Virginia, recruiting acumen in the Commonwealth and ability to activate the state in a way that provides benefits for the program. I think Virginia Tech finishes the season with six wins, giving Pry a boost in these rankings while at least one other ACC job changes over before 2023. Last year: N/A in the ACC|