Florida State Seminoles: Scott Shafer

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 30, 2014
In the spring, Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said he was looking forward to seeing a new and improved Wayne Williams ready to tackle fall practice.

I'd say these photos are proof of that.


The picture on the left was taken in January, when Williams enrolled at Syracuse and weighed close to 350 pounds. The picture on the right is what he looks like now. Though Williams did not say how much weight he has dropped, it appears to be a significant amount.

A new and improved Williams indeed.

Why is this important? Williams' development is a huge key for a Syracuse defensive line that has to address major depth issues when practice begins Saturday. Syracuse has to replace tackle Jay Bromley, who led the team with 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last season. Williams was so out of shape in the spring, he could not really contribute in a meaningful way, and the Orange ended up cross-training ends to play inside to help make up for depth concerns.

An in-shape Williams changes the picture dramatically. Syracuse has been waiting on him for years now, a talented prospect who has been frustratingly out of reach. But now that it appears Williams has taken the necessary steps to get himself into playing shape, the Orange defensive front could end up surprising some people.

Now, here is a look at more headlines across the ACC:

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 13, 2014
The Spurs are just something else.

ACC's lunch links

June, 10, 2014
Good luck, D-Fish.

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 9, 2014
Quite a bit of recruiting activity this past weekend ...

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 6, 2014
Not a good look for UNC.

ACC lunch links

June, 5, 2014
Same question, different sport: Who ya got in the other Finals?
Thanks to everyone for all the great feedback on the ACC coach rankings. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Go!

Jon in Atlanta writes: Hey AA, I agree mostly on your list. However, I rank coaches based on their ability to coach. I think (David) Cutcliffe is No. 1. Why? Because he took basically 2-3 star players and competed with teams full of 4-5 star players. That in my mind, is what coaching is. Getting your players to play above their level. Also, I would rank Paul Johnson higher. We have a great graduation success percentage. In a college, key word college, coach that is what you want.

Brent in Charlotte writes: Really do not understand your criteria about ranking the coaches in the ACC. What I don't understand is how Jimbo (Fisher) gets credit for what he has done lately (which is due to having a great roster of talent) but others like (Dabo) Swinney don't. Prior to last year, you were questioning how good of a coach Jimbo really was since he had all that talent and hadn't gotten "over the hump". Because in your next argument, you talk about (Frank) Beamer's body of work and Cutcliffe's one good season (and throw out his five bad seasons). I think Cutcliffe is a great coach as well but No. 2 in the ACC after one good season in a weak division? Your rankings are all over the map and do not make any sense as to what you are comparing them against. If it's body of work, then it's clearly Beamer. If it's turnarounds, then it's Cutcliffe and (Al) Golden. And arguably Golden since he won at TEMPLE of all places. If it's who is doing the best now, it's Fisher and then Swinney.

Neil in Leland, N.C., writes: Beamer, (Bobby) Petrino AND Cutcliffe ahead of Dabo? Are you serious? Cutcliffe is 16-11 the last two years with bad bowl losses to Texas A&M and Cincinnati. Beamer has been owned by Clemson the last two times out, losing by 61-13. Petrino inherits a Louisville team WITHOUT (Teddy) Bridgewater and several others, and has yet to coach a single game in the ACC. Dabo is 22-4 the last two years, two top 10 finishes, and bowl victories over two top 10 teams. Me thinks you might have something against Clemson or Coach Swinney. It's the only thing I can think of.

Chris Butterick in Nashville, Tenn., writes: Like your list and agree on Cutliffe and Beamer but would think with the quality of player Swinney has recruited, he could have done a better "coaching" job. He is entertainment but just not as good as he is rated -- would put him eighth or ninth and also move Petrino down with Swinney. Honestly, it is about his character or lack thereof, but what has he really done lately? Also might flop Golden and (Larry) Fedora. Thanks for the rankings.

Stevie in Simpsonville, S.C., writes: Seriously? Just when I thought you knew what you were talking about? Swinney below Beamer (who he beat) as well as Cutcliffe (admirable, don't get me wrong) but in a division that has artificially been pumped up as "competitive"? I say do away with the divisions, rotate the games fairly, and let the best teams represent a rising ACC. Yes, rising! That and how about a rule against UNC for these classes I wish I could have taken back in college.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cutcliffe
Ellen Ozier/USA TODAY SportsDavid Cutcliffe is 31-44 in six seasons as Duke coach.
Dana Dill in Cincinnati writes: You can't punish Swinney simply because he recruits well. Recruiting is part of coaching in college football. Swinney has turned the whole culture around at Clemson, not just the football program and it continues to thrive four years into his reign. He is a couple big wins away from a national championship and if Cutcliffe was competing in the same division as Clemson/FSU he wouldn't be playing for the ACC championship.

Will Graham in Liverpool, N.Y., writes: Scott Shafer should of been higher because winning a bowl game and finishing third in your division of the ACC conference where nobody expected them to do either must warrant something.

Yungdungbeetle87 in Chamapaign, Ill., writes: I like the job that Shafer is doing at the Cuse. I realize his body of work as a HC isn't very extensive and that surely is part of the reason why his coach ranking falls near the bottom of the ACC. On the other hand, he has done a lot with comparatively little, recruiting seems to be trending upwards, and the program looks to heading in the right direction despite being in the stronger division. I think that he, among the coaches in the ACC, has a really good chance to move up on that list within the next couple of seasons. I think he could be the biggest mover on this list next year. Thanks for reading (I've never done one of these before).

Robert VT in Blacksburg, Va., writes: Hi Andrea, thanks for your input. However, I do not feel that Bobby Petrino should be ranked in the top 6 for ACC coaches, when he hasn't coached a league game yet. Nothing against Petrino, and I'm happy to see Louisville enter our league on July 1. Granted Petrino has demonstrated in the past his high football acumen, but I think he may be cast a little too high right now. We'll see!

John P in St. Louis, Mo. ,writes: As you mentioned in your article, I believe there is a fairly large qualifier to this ranking. Are you ranking the coaches as they sit today, or as a body of work throughout their entire career? Those two lists would have quite a few differences for me, with Beamer being Exhibit A. For a coaching career, it's hard not to throw him at No. 1 with what he has accomplished, but in May 2014 would I pick him first out of this list to be my coach? Not even close. With that said, I'll assume the rankings are as if I'm picking a coach to run my team tomorrow: 1. Fisher 2. Cutcliffe 3. Swinney 4. Petrino 5. Fedora 6. Beamer 7. Golden 8. Chryst 9. Johnson 10. Doeren 11. Clawson 12. Addazio 13. Shafer 14. London. Go Cards!

Doug Levy in Radford, Va., writes: I get Fisher being up there based on winning a National Championship, but if you look at the body of his work, it may not merit the top spot. Cutcliffe ahead of Beamer just because he took Duke to the ACC championship game? Once? Yeah, it's Duke, but come on ... Name one coach on the list who has changed the way college football is played? There is only one: Frank Beamer. His approach to special teams play changed the game. His body of work is better than most in the nation, not just the ACC. Has he had a few down years? Yup, but who hasn't. Alabama, Texas, etc. have all had their slumps. Beamer is best.

Ranking the ACC coaches

May, 6, 2014
After Florida State won the national championship, some began to debate where Jimbo Fisher stood among all coaches nationally.

Had he reached an elite level with that title?

The Sporting News has attempted to answer that question in its coaches rankings, released last week. Fisher ranks No. 10 among all head coaches on the list, the highest among all ACC coaches. But that still seems too low for a coach who has two ACC titles, an Orange Bowl victory, a national championship, a Heisman Trophy winner on his roster and a school-record 11 draft picks in 2013 alone. Especially when you consider how much work had to be done to get the Seminoles back into the national conversation.

[+] EnlargeBobby Bowden
AP Photo/Steve CannonA national championship has raised Jimbo Fisher's profile after coaching under Florida State legend Bobby Bowden.
While it is true that Florida State lost games it simply should not have under Fisher, what happened last season should carry more weight. It did for Gus Malzahn, who surprisingly checks in only three spots behind Fisher on the list.

At the very least, Fisher deserves to be ranked ahead of Chris Petersen, David Shaw and Brian Kelly. You could have a great debate on whether Fisher should be ranked ahead of Les Miles or Mark Dantonio, too. Very few teams rival the talent and depth Fisher has assembled over the last few seasons. If the Seminoles contend for another national championship, I expect Fisher to be ranked much higher when the 2015 version comes out next year.

As for the rest of the ACC, here is how the rankings shake out, with overall national ranking:

  • No. 10 Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
  • No. 16 Dabo Swinney, Clemson
  • No. 18 David Cutcliffe, Duke
  • No. 21 Bobby Petrino, Louisville
  • No. 30 Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
  • No. 31 Larry Fedora, North Carolina
  • No. 32 Al Golden, Miami
  • No. 53 Paul Johnson Georgia Tech
  • No. 60 Paul Chryst, Pitt
  • No. 65 David Clawson, Wake Forest
  • No. 66 Steve Addazio, Boston College
  • No. 68 Dave Doeren, NC State
  • No. 83 Scott Shafer, Syracuse
  • No. 102 Mike London, Virginia

I would make a few tweaks to this list. Swinney has done a great job at Clemson, but I would move Cutcliffe ahead for a few reasons. Nobody ever expected the Blue Devils to compete for an ACC title, but that is exactly what happened last year. Cutcliffe has taken this team to back-to-back bowl games, an ACC championship game and has won consecutive coach of the year honors while having to recruit to a tough academic school. Duke is not bringing in the kind of quality classes Clemson is; Cutcliffe is simply doing more with less.

I also would move Beamer up, but the question is where? Ahead of both Swinney and Petrino? Ahead of Petrino only? Should the last few years take away from all his accomplishments? I understand the Sporting News rankings are a snapshot of how coaches fare year to year, but Beamer should get credit for his long body of work. Beamer has won seven conference titles and made six BCS appearances, including one national championship game. Petrino has a great offensive mind and Swinney has put Clemson back into the Top 25 every year, but neither has come close to Beamer's career accomplishments.

I would also move Chryst down. Doeren did have a disappointing first year at NC State, but he also led Northern Illinois to an Orange Bowl appearance. Chryst is 13-13 overall as a head coach, though he had a rough deal handed to him to fix the Pitt mess he inherited. I feel pretty confident in the top 5. The rest? Flip 'em up, down and all around and you could make arguments to move just about everybody. Taking into account recent success (weighted slightly more), body of work and results at a power-5 job (weighted slightly more), the AA rankings would look something like this:

1. Fisher
2. Cutcliffe
3. Beamer
4. Swinney
5. Petrino
6. Golden
7. Fedora
8. Johnson
9. Addazio
10. Doeren
11. Chryst
12. Clawson
13. Shafer
14. London

Send me your thoughts into the mailbag, and I will publish your responses this Friday. Let the debate begin!

ACC's lunch links

April, 21, 2014
Between this low ranking for lumberjacks and this story about shaving, it was a bad week for beards.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 16, 2014
Never forget.

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 19, 2014
Links to help get you through your Wednesday.

ACC's lunch links

February, 18, 2014
A chef in Detroit created a 10-course meal built around Radiohead’s “Kid A.” “Treefingers” sounds quite refreshing.

At least one draft observer thinks Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is the best QB of the class and should go No. 1 to the Texans, writes the Courier-Journal.

Clemson’s Sammy Watkins has big plans to impress the scouts at the NFL combine, too, writes The State.

With the proposed new rule on defensive substitutions in mind, the Athens Banner-Herald takes a closer look at last season's Georgia-Clemson game.

It was a busy day for Jameis Winston, who collected ACC all-academic team honors while in Dallas to celebrate his Davey O’Brien trophy.

Florida State was caught by surprise when school president Eric Barron left for Penn State. The school has already begun its search for a successor, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution breaks down a potential depth chart for the Georgia Tech offense in 2014.

SI.com has a one-on-one interview with Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer that is pretty enlightening.

One member of the Orange’s massive recruiting class at wide receiver was given the boot from his high school basketball team, writes The Post-Standard.

Miami has set its spring scrimmage dates, writes the Miami Herald.

Virginia Tech has its spring schedule set, too, writes The Roanoke Times.


ACC mailblog

February, 14, 2014
Now that our weekly chats are on hiatus, feel free to send me a line in the mailbag!

Robert VT in Blacksburg, Va., writes: AA, again thanks for yours and HD's professional reporting. You ladies do a great job, no question about it! Thanks for switching Maryland over to the Big Ten and bringing in LOUISVILLE. I'm ready! I sure hate seeing Maryland leave the ACC, but I think the ACC got a much better overall sports program with LOUISVILLE. I have a bunch of Maryland friends who are really unhappy about the move to the Big Ten and feel the move was shoved down their throats, with a back-room deal in the middle of the night. They just feel their President (Wallace) Loh (from Big Ten) did not allow enough input from the school and ACC to be fair, after 60 years of ACC membership. It reminded some of them of the Baltimore Colts moving out in the middle of the night to Indy on 3 Mayflower moving vans. Ha! Have a great day.

Andrea Adelson writes: Thank you, Robert. We appreciate the loyal readership! I agree the ACC got the better end of this deal. While the Big Ten has not had a glowing national reputation over the last few years, it is difficult to see how the Terrapins will move in to that conference and have their football program thrive from the outset, especially playing in a division with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. And let's not forget Penn State, which has hired former Maryland coach-in-waiting James Franklin. He just put together an outstanding recruiting class, sanctions and all. Now the Atlantic is tough, don't get me wrong, but the Big Ten East looks much tougher, at least on paper. There might be more money on the other side of the rainbow, but more money cannot buy you 10-win seasons or conference championships. Just ask West Virginia.

David Goldberg in Houston writes: Hi, much is being made of Rob Moore leaving for the Buffalo Bills. People forget that George McDonald lasted at Arkansas exactly 4 weeks (December 2012-January 2013) before becoming the offensive coordinator at Syracuse. I realize the timing is a little different in terms of recruiting. Nevertheless, it's just one illustration of how coaches jump from job to job ... and that's life in the business.

Adelson writes: You are right, David. Look no further than new North Carolina assistant Keith Heckendorf, who just returned to the Tar Heels after spending one month at Arkansas State. Pitt also recently lost receivers coach Bobby Engram, too. I think the biggest issue, as you mentioned, was the timing. Did Moore and coach Scott Shafer know about the move and tell incoming recruits about it before signing day? Did they have an obligation to do so? It is absolutely true that recruits should choose programs over coaches because there is so much turnover. But at the same time, there must have been a sense from these recruits that they would play for Moore once they arrived on campus, even if it was for just a short period of time.

Jeff in Boston writes: Looks like Jimbo (Fisher) might be right! Jameis (Winston) confirmed that he will be focusing on baseball instead of the 2015 draft! :)

Adelson writes: Well, sure, did any of us expect him to declare for the 2015 draft now? I think we would all be wiser to focus on 2014 before we even think about who is staying and who is leaving for 2015.

KC in Michigan writes: After reading Tim in Blacksburg's suggestion on rivalry weekend, I decided to submit my own idea. Why not realign the divisions to protect all rivalries? Atlantic: Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Wake Forest. Coastal: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech. That would make all but three rivalry games divisional. Those three games could be protected crossovers. They are Boston College-Syracuse; Clemson-North Carolina State; North Carolina-Virginia. Eliminate all other protected crossover games.

Adelson: I have been a proponent of divisional realignment since I started covering the ACC not only to balance out the divisions but to also help protect a majority of these rivalry games. Because when it comes down to it, one of the biggest issues moving forward with the eight-game league format is teams such as Duke and NC State going a billion years between playing each other. We have seen too many rivalry games get lost in the shuffle during conference realignment, and I think it would be smart to protect as many as possible. But one idea that has grown on me is getting rid of the divisions entirely. There are no divisions in basketball. If the NCAA grants the ACC the autonomy to govern its championship game the way it wants, and athletic directors are in favor of having the top two teams in the league play in the title game, then why do you need divisions at all?

Mark in Orlando, Fla., writes: No mention of Duke Johnson in your ACC top 25 players? Almost 1,000 yards and he missed a third of the season? No Stacey Coley? A freshman who scored on pass plays, a kick return and a punt return? The only player in the nation to do so? Both of those guys will be NFL first-rounders, yet your only mention of a Miami player is a third- or fourth-round linebacker who got a bunch of tackles because his D-line was porous? Do you actually watch any games or just read year-end stat sheets?

Adelson writes: I wondered how long it would take to get a note like this one. First, as you point out, Johnson missed a large chunk of the season. So we eliminated him from consideration, much in the same way we eliminated Stefon Diggs from consideration. Johnson and Diggs are two of the most dynamic players in the league, but they got hurt. And the 2013 final player countdown takes into account performance throughout the entire 2013 season. To that point, we do not count NFL projections in the countdown, either. Denzel Perryman was a first-team All-ACC selection by both the media and the coaches. I think the coaches watch the games. As for Coley, receiver was an incredibly deep position in the league this year. We had six receivers make the countdown -- and that does not include Michael Campanaro from Wake Forest, also left out because of injury. Coley was great, and will more than likely be in the 2014 top 25 preseason player countdown, but his overall numbers do not compare to the guys who made the list. It is tough to rank somebody with only 33 total receptions for 591 yards in the top 25. You mentioned his all-purpose production. Tyler Boyd and Jamison Crowder were better, and they were bigger contributors on offense. It is interesting that you are upset about Coley being left off, but not 1,000-yard receiver Allen Hurns. I thought for sure Miami fans would be screaming at us for that one.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 14, 2014
Thoughts are with the BC family today on the passing of Dick Kelley.

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 17, 2014
Can't wait 'til offseason coaching carousel comes to a stop ...


ESPN 300 Recruits on Negative Recruiting
At the Under Armour All-American Game, some of the nation's top recruits discuss how negative recruiting affected their college decisions.