Here’s a fun fact: Paul Johnson, who’s about to enter his fourth season at Georgia Tech, ranks fourth among football coaches in his 12-team league in on-the-job seniority, and the only reason he’s not third is that North Carolina State hired Tom O’Brien instead of PJ in December 2006.
Think about that. The ACC isn’t some fly-by-night conference. It has been in operation since 1953. And yet it has taken to operating as if it’s some geographically incorrect start-up.
North Carolina fired Butch Davis on Wednesday, two days after he was allowed to meet the media assembled in Pinehurst, N.C. This was but the latest in a series of weird ACC coaching maneuvers. Since 2007 the conference has seen two Bowdens nudged aside — one at Clemson, the other at Florida State — and one Fridge moved. (Ralph Friedgen was bought out by Maryland last December after going 8-4, but not before James Franklin, who had been designated the Terps’ coach-in-waiting, had bolted to Vanderbilt.)
In January 2009 Jeff Jagodzinski was canned by Boston College AD Gene DeFillippo after interviewing for the New York Jets’ head coaching position. (Jagodzinski, best known as Matt Ryan’s college coach, has since lost jobs as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator and as head coach of the UFL Omaha Nighthawks.) That same year Al Groh, who’s now Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator, was fired by Virginia, and his final act in Charlottesville was reciting a poem. Last fall Miami dumped Randy Shannon; back in 2006, the U had promoted Shannon after dumping Larry Coker, who’d won the 2001 BCS title.
If you’re keeping score, Frank Beamer, who became Virginia Tech’s coach in 1987, has been in his current job the longest, although technically Beamer has worked in the ACC only since 2004. (That’s when the Hokies joined.) If you count his time at Boston College, O’Brien has been the head coach at an ACC school since 2005. (He worked at BC when the Eagles moved from the Big East.) And Jim Grobe has been in place — at both Wake Forest and in the ACC — since 20o1. So he’s the dean, I guess.
Oh, one thing more: Even the unshakable Beamer had a tough offseason. It has been revealed that he invested with alleged Ponzi schemer Jim Donnan, who played at — wouldn’t you know? — N.C. State. (Though Beamer says he didn’t lose any money.)
And this, too: Carolina AD Dick Baddour announced today he’s stepping down.
By Mark Bradley