10. North Carolina- Larry Fedora
Just like David Cutcliffe, it’s hard to build a successful football program at a Power 5 school where basketball is king. However, Fedora has done an admirable job with the Tar Heels. In 2015, the Tar Heels posted an 11-3 season with an 8-0 conference record before losing in the ACC title game. Since then, Fedora has struggled with a combined 11-14 record the past two seasons. Look for a bounce-back year for Fedora and the Tar Heels.
9. Wake Forest – Dave Clawson
Dave Clawson is known as the man who can turn around programs. At Fordham, Clawson went from a 0-11 season to the Division I-AA quarterfinals within 4 years. At Richmond, Clawson also took the Spiders to the FCS Semifinals after a dreadful 3-8 season to begin his tenure. At Bowling Green, Clawson ended his five-year tenure a 10 win season and conference title. Now, Clawson is in his fifth year at Wake Forest, and the program is on the upswing after an 8-5 season. If history repeats itself, this will be Clawson’s best year to date with the Demon Deacons.
8. Florida State – Willie Taggart
Willie Taggart is an enigma. Truthfully, I don’t know how to judge him because he’s been at 3 different schools the past 3 years. Now, Taggart is at Florida State, a team that had a rocky 2017 who is looking to move on after Jimbo Fisher’s departure. Taggart is a Florida born product so he should have no trouble recruiting in the state. However, don’t expect Florida State boosters or fans to wait patiently for Taggart to build a program. An under .500 first season would be an instant trip to the hot seat. Let’s see what Taggart can do with the pressure at an all-time high.
7. NC State – Dave Doeren
Dave Doeren has not had a sub .500 season at NC State since his inaugural season as the Wolfpack head coach. Dave Doeren has three bowl wins in five seasons. Last year, Dave Doeren led the Wolfpack to their best season during his tenure. NC State finished with a 9-4 record. So why is Dave Doeren not thought of as a top coach in the ACC? A lot of that stems from his 15-25 record in conference. If Doeren wants to take the next step, he has to find more success in the conference.