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ACC Coaches And How Their Careers Started

Josh Pastner and Kevin Stallings are the latest. One is exceeding expectations and one’s not.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at North Carolina State
Jan 15, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Josh Pastner prior to a game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at PNC Arena. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The fact Georgia Tech is now 5-4 in the ACC is more than noteworthy. It’s remarkable, unexpected, and at least at this point has new coach Josh Pastner positioned as the clear frontrunner for 2017 ACC Coach of the Year.

Pastner’s early performance compares favorably with the majority of the other 21 coaches who took over ACC teams since 2000. (Not counting those who came into the league with their teams.) This season Pastner and Pitt’s Kevin Stallings are the newcomers.

Stallings’ team is 1-7 in ACC action, 12-9 overall. Pastner’s Yellow Jackets already, as he says, have exceeded expectations no matter how they finish in the second half of their conference schedule. Particularly noteworthy is that, among the Jackets’ five ACC conquests are three ranked teams: North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame.

That victory total puts Pastner ahead of eight first-year efforts among recent ACC head coaches, and on a par with three more. That’s right in the middle.

Of course not all new coaches have equivalent early opportunities. Some coaches arrived when the league had nine teams. Now it has 15, providing more chances to win games. What each coach inherited in the way of talent also varied and had an impact on his team’s eventual fate.

Most coaches did about as well as expected with their new squads. Among the more obvious over-achievers in their first year, in addition to Pastner, were BC’s Steve Donahue, Clemson’s Brad Brownell, Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt, NC State’s Mark Gottfried, Virginia’s Dave Leitao, and Wake’s Dino Gaudio.

Of that group, only Hewitt in 2001 was voted ACC Coach of the Year.

Among the least auspicious starts to a coaching tenure -- comparing the media’s preseason expectations and their teams’ actual finish – were UNC’s Roy Williams in 2004 and Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons in 2015.

Records of First-Year Men’s Coaches in the ACC Since 2000 Season
(2017 Records Through Jan. 29)
ACC Season Coach, School Overall Projected
13-3 2001 Matt Doherty, NC 26-7 3 1tie
9-7 2011 Steve Donahue, BC 21-13 10 4
9-7 2011 Brad Brownell, C 22-12 7 4
9-7 2012 Jim Larranaga, UM 20-13 5 5tie
9-7 2012 Mark Gottfried, NCS 24-13 8 4tie
9-7 2002 Skip Prosser, WF 21-13 5 3
8-8 2001 Paul Hewitt, GT 17-13 8 5tie
8-8 2004 Roy Williams, NC 19-11 2 5
7-9 2006 Dave Leitao, V 15-15 12 7
7-9 2008 Dino Gaudio, WF 17-13 11 7tie
5-4 2017 Josh Pastner, GT 13-8 14 TBD
5-11 2007 Sidney Lowe, NCS 20-16 12 10
5-11 2011 Tony Bennett, V 15-16 11 9tie
5-13 2015 Danny Manning, WF 13-19 11 14
4-12 2003 Leonard Hamilton, FS 14-15 9 9
4-12 2012 Brian Gregory, GT 11-20 10 8tie
4-14 2013 James Johnson, VT 13-19 10 12
4-14 2015 Jim Christian, BC 13-19 14 13
3-13 2004 Oliver Purnell, C 10-18 9 9
2-16 2015 Buzz Williams, VT 11-22 15 15