This is the third straight season, and the sixth time in eight years, two or more new head coaches landed in the ACC. More notably, this is only the fourth time in 30 years conference teams simultaneously plugged in a trio of coaches.
Most striking of all, more than half the league’s coaches have changed over the past four seasons, the length of a normal college player’s tenure.
You can readily argue that with more members come more opportunities for change. There are more posts to fill, after all. There’s more pressure to keep up, too, and more hiring mistakes to be made in trying to do so.
Some coaches. like Pitt’s Jamie Dixon, didn’t want to be in the ACC, and jumped ship after his school joined. In 2017 Dixon returned to TCU, his alma mater, and was replaced at Pitt by Jeff Capel.
Lately a once-rich herd of Hall of Fame coaches has been culled by what might be called natural attrition. That is, the incumbents retired.
Jim Boeheim, never an ACC enthusiast, abruptly stepped aside at Syracuse before being pushed off the stage following the 2023 season. Mike Krzyzewski left in a well-orchestrated if at times awkward, year-long exit after the ’22 season. And UNC’s Roy Williams, expressing remorse following consecutive disappointing efforts, including the only losing mark of his 18-year UNC tenure, retired after the 2021 season.
Then there was Gary Williams, who stepped aside at Maryland following the 2011 season. A few years later Maryland itself retired from the ACC, to be replaced by Louisville, which within three years ran off its incumbent Hall of Famer, Rick Pitino. The shadows cast by a double-barreled blast of scandal involving Pitino’s program – provision of paid female companionship to UL recruits and entanglement in the sneaker/player procurement scandal involving Adidas, an eager partner with bigot Kanye West – left a bitter aftertaste as UL’s 2013 national title became the first ever vacated by the NCAA.
Pitino’s departure on the eve of the season led Louisville to promote his assistant, David Padgett, to acting head coach despite a lack of previous experience directing a team. Padgett’s squad was competitive, but at 9-9 in the league and 22-14 overall fell below the vaulted program’s erstwhile standards.
Only once in successor Chris Mack’s nearly four years on the job did the Cards outshine Padgett’s record.
Now Louisville is counting on alum Kenny Payne, another untested newcomer to college head coaching who saw his initial, 2023 squad post one of the truly execrable marks in the ACC’s 70-year history.
Farther east, Pitt stuck with Jeff Capel, successful in his fifth season directing the Panthers. Capel, with Duke’s Jon Scheyer, advanced after serving as a Krzyzewski acolyte. Georgia Tech and Notre Dame likewise boast a pair of offshoots of another estimable coaching tree – Georgia Tech’s Damon Stoudamire and Notre Dame’s Micah Shrewsberry were both former assistants to Brad Stevens with the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
In the last 30 years there have now been 40 ostensibly permanent ACC coaching changes. (BC assistant Scott Spinelli filled in for 4 late-season games in 2021 after Jim Christian was jettisoned, and Louisville’s Mike Pegues stepped up for 18 games in 2022.) The coaching turnover rate is accelerating. Over the past decade there have been 18 changes.
MAINTAINING BENCH DECORUM
ACC Coaching Changes by Season, Since FSU Joined In 1992
(Not Counting Coaches Accompanying A New ACC Member)
|2024||3||D. Stoudamire, GT; M. Shrewsbury, ND; A. Autry, SU|
|2023||2||J. Scheyer, D; K. Payne, UL|
|2022||2||E. Grant, BC; H. Davis, NC|
|2021||1||S. Forbes, WF|
|2020||1||M. Young, VT|
|2019||2||C. Mack, UL; J. Capel PU|
|2018||2||D. Padgett, UL; Kevin Keatts, NS|
|2017||2||J. Pastner, GT; Kevin Stallings, PU|
|2015||3||J. Christian, BC; D. Manning, WF; B. Williams, VT|
|2013||1||J. Johnson, VT|
|2012||4||M. Gottfried, NS; B. Gregory, GT; J. Larranaga, Mi; M. Turgeon, M|
|2011||3||B. Brownell, C; J. Bzdelik, WF; S. Donahue, BC|
|2010||1||T. Bennett, V|
|2008||1||D. Gaudio, WF|
|2007||1||S. Lowe, NS|
|2006||1||D. Leitao, V|
|2004||2||R. Williams, NC; O. Purnell, C|
|2003||1||L. Hamilton, FS|
|2002||1||S. Prosser, WF|
|2001||2||M. Doherty, NC; P. Hewitt, GT|
|1999||2||P. Gillen, V; L. Shyatt, C|
|1998||2||B. Guthridge, NC; S. Robinson, FS|
|1997||1||H. Sendek, NS|
|1995||1||R. Barnes, C|