Another season in the ACC once again means more introductions are necessary. Including UNC interim coach Everett Withers, there will be three new head coaches in the ACC this year. There has been a significant amount of turnover at the head-coaching position, as every school but Virginia Tech has hired a new head coach within the past five years. Frank Beamer, who is entering his 25th season, is the undisputed veteran of the league, as NC State’s Tom O’Brien is the next-longest tenured coach, and he is entering his fifth season. Five coaches will be entering their first or second seasons this fall. Here’s a look at your new coaches for 2011 and how they might impact the conference in their first season:
Maryland coach Randy Edsall
Background: He spent the past 12 seasons leading Connecticut from FCS status to a perennial postseason participant. Edsall led Connecticut to eight or more wins and bowl games in each of the past four seasons, including last year’s 2010 Big East title and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. He compiled a 74-70 record at UCONN and left as the school’s all-time leader in wins and games coached. He also spent one season as defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech (1998), four years as defensive backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars (1994-97), and three years as defensive backs coach at Boston College (1991-93).
Potential: Edsall has already made an impact with his no-nonsense, business-like approach, and there were some academic issues he had to clean up. He has installed a more up-tempo offense that will use some no-huddle, and he has one of the ACC’s best quarterbacks to work with in Danny O’Brien. He also has one of the ACC’s top defenders in linebacker Kenny Tate. Beyond those two stars, though, the identity of his team has yet to be determined. Edsall was hired to make Maryland a consistent top 25 team, fill seats, sell suites and appeal to an apathetic fan base. Not an easy task in College Park. He can do it if he improves the program’s recruiting. Edsall has had a reputation for recognizing and developing talent, not luring in elite prospects.
Miami coach Al Golden
Background: Temple had won a total of three games in the three seasons prior to Golden’s arrival and had only one winning season in over three decades. Golden was 27-34 at Temple, including a 17-8 record in his final two seasons, the best the program had seen since 1978-79. He also took the program to its first bowl game in 30 years. Prior to his tenure at Temple, Golden spent five seasons as the defensive coordinator under Al Groh at Virginia. Golden was also a two-year starter at tight end for Penn State and spent one season in the NFL with the Patriots.
Potential: It’s logical to think that if Golden could win at Temple, he can win just about anywhere, especially at a place like Miami, where the facilities and recruiting don’t even compare to what Golden had to work with in inner-city Philadelphia. Golden is a charismatic, energetic young coach, but he also still has something to prove among his ACC peers. He has to name a starting quarterback this summer, and a staff overhaul means a change in terminology and philosophy. That being said, there is enough talent on the current roster for Miami to win the Coastal Division. Golden could have an immediate impact in Year 1, or Miami fans will have to do what they’ve grown accustomed to -- waiting.
North Carolina coach Everett Withers
Background: He was named UNC’s interim head coach on July 28. Feels like five minutes ago. He brings 24 seasons of experience at both the collegiate and NFL levels. He has been the Tar Heels’ defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the past three seasons. He came to UNC after one season as Minnesota’s defensive coordinator (2007). He spent the previous six seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Potential: Withers has two tasks this fall: 1) Keep the team together, and 2) Win games. If he can’t get the first job done, the second will be impossible, but based on his track record, Withers has what it takes to keep North Carolina in the mix for the Coastal Division this year. There is enough talent on the roster that had the situation remained status quo, the Tar Heels without a doubt could have won their division. They still can, but Withers is dealing with a group of players who have had their seasons turned upside-down two summers in a row. It’s a delicate situation as to whether they rally around him or throw their hands up and quit, but Withers helped UNC cobble together a respectable eight-win season last year despite a defense that was ravaged by injuries and suspensions. If he can do it again, UNC could be one of the ACC's biggest surprises.