6. Georgia Tech – Paul Johnson
The triple option should not work in today’s game where offenses are faster, and defenses are stronger than ever. The fact that Paul Johnson has had success with the triple option at Georgia Tech is beyond remarkable. In his 10 seasons with Yellow Jackets, Johnson’s teams have only been under .500 three times. Johnson’s best season came in 2014, where the Yellow Jackets lost a heartbreaker to Florida State in the ACC title game, but saved their best for last with a win in the Orange Bowl. Johnson has never had back-to-back sub .500 seasons at Georgia Tech so expect the Yellow Jackets to the right the ship in 2018.
5. Virginia Tech – Justin Fuente
Taking over for the legendary Frank Beamer was almost an impossible task, but Justin Fuente has passed with flying colors. Since coming over from Memphis, Fuente has lead the Hokies to seasons of 10-4 and 9-4 with a bowl win. Fuente has now found success at both Memphis and Virginia Tech. The next task for Fuente will be to dethrone Clemson at the top of the ACC. If Fuente can knock Clemson off, he will frighten many college football teams. Do not be surprised if his name gets brought up for the head coaching position at Ohio State if Urban Meyer is fired.
4. Duke – David Cutcliffe
Duke football can credit their recent success to one man, David Cutcliffe. When Cutcliffe arrived there in 2008, the Blue Devils were the laughing stock of the ACC in which the win total never eclipsed 4 in the 14 previous seasons. It’s hard to build a successful football team at a Power 5 school when basketball is the top dog. However, Cutcliffe has completely turned the program around, ending an 18-year bowl drought back in 2012. The height of his excellence came in 2013, which was the first team to win 10 games in school history. Cutcliffe also had the privilege of grooming both Peyton and Eli Manning in college. Making Duke relevant was no easy task, but Cutcliffe has done that and more.
3. Louisville – Bobby Petrino
Love him or hate him, and a lot of people hate him, Bobby Petrino can flat out coach. Since Petrino came back to Louisville in 2014, the Cardinals have won at least 8 games every year. Petrino is known for his explosive offense, and the pinnacle of his coaching came in 2016 when quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy. With Jackson in the NFL, let’s see what Petrino can do with a new crop of talent at Louisville. The Cardinals open this season against Alabama. Petrino will shock the world if he can knock off the champs without Lamar Jackson under center.