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The Long And Short Of ACC Coaching

Eight coaches now have four years or less experience going into this season.

NCAA BASKETBALL: JAN 14 Virginia at Clemson
CLEMSON, SC - JANUARY 14: Clemson head coach Brad Brownell greets Virginia head coach Tony Bennett prior to 1st half action between the Clemson Tigers and the Virginia Cavaliers on January 14, 2017 at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, SC.
Photo by Doug Buffington/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With today’s column on ACC coaches, Barry Jacobs returns to DBR for another season.

A long-time ACC writer, Barry wrote the ACC Fan’s Guides for years. It became an indispensable resource for ACC fans and cognoscenti alike and if you get old ACC fans together, it will eventually come up in conversation. Much like the Pilot Life song, the Fan’s Guide was just part of the fabric of ACC basketball.

It’s been our good fortune to work with Barry in one way or another for the entire century to date. We’ve done it for so long we can’t even remember when he started contributing to DBR, but it’s been a good long while and a very rewarding stretch for us, and, we’re sure for you as well.

So we’re pleased to welcome Barry back and look forward to another season of intelligent, insightful analysis of ACC basketball. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

By some measures a decade is a long time.

Certainly it seems eons ago that the ACC in 2015 added Louisville, a perennial national basketball power, and conspicuously boasted four active Hall of Fame coaches among its men’s ranks – Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Rick Pitino (Louisville), and Roy Williams (UNC).

Three national championships ensued among league teams over the first five seasons with UL aboard – the Blue Devils in 2015, the Tar Heels in 2017, and Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers in 2019.

But, as with Miami, a supposed national football power which joined the ACC and became an enduring disappointment on the field, Louisville never quite got its basketball footing once it joined the league.

The Cardinals are now directed by their third full-time head coach since Pitino left in disgrace. (Pitino resurfaced again at Iona, launching ground of ACC coaches Jim Valvano and Pat Kennedy. This season he’s at St. John’s working for former Duke administrator Mike Cragg.)

Current Cards coach Kenny Payne guided his first UL team to a breathtaking 4-28 record in 2023. That matched Walt Hambrick for the worst inaugural ACC coaching effort ever in terms of wins; in 1959, Hambrick’s single season directing the Gamecocks during their pre-Frank McGuire wanderings, USC went 4-20.

After Pitino the other three circa-2015 ACC studs retired all in a row – Roy in 2021, K in 2022, Boeheim in 2023. Two left of their own volition; K had a plan and Boeheim faced rising pressure to step aside as the Orange program moldered. Between them the trio had 70 years of ACC experience at their respective schools. Coach K had 42, Williams had 18, Boeheim 10.

Krzyzewski had the longest tenure in ACC history, six more years than Dean Smith at North Carolina (1962-1997).

The senior ACC coaching survivor is now Leonard Hamilton, entering his 22nd season at Florida State. That matches the Maryland tenure of Hall of Famer Gary Williams, who retired after 22 years at that job, his fourth after American, Boston College, and Ohio State. FSU is similarly Hamilton’s fourth coaching berth following Oklahoma State, Miami, the NBA’s Washington Bullets (a 2-year stop ignored in ACC records) and now Florida State.

Hamilton is one of four ACC coaches with double-digit seasons in his present position along with UVa’s Bennett (15), Clemson’s Brad Brownell (14), and Miami’s Jim Larranaga (13).

No other coach in the league has more time on the job than NC State’s Kevin Keatts, in his seventh year at Raleigh.

Seven ACC coaches, nearly half, have been in their present spot for three or fewer years, not exactly an assurance of competitive command.

Lengths of ACC Men's Head Coaching Regimes
Coach, School Years on Job
Entering 2023-4
Record (@) Win Pct.
L. Hamilton, FSU 22 404-265 .604
T. Bennett, V 15 340-125 .731
B. Brownell, C 14 241-177 .577
J. Larranaga, UM 13 255-149 .631
K. Keatts, NS 7 113-79 .5885
J. Capel, UP 6 75-81 .481
M. Young, VT 5 73-51 .5887
S. Forbes, WF 4 50-39 .562
H. Davis, NC 3 49-23 .681
E. Grant, BC 3 29-37 .439
K. Payne, UL 2 4-28 .125
J. Scheyer, D 2 27-9 .750
A. Autry, SU 1 Nada NA
M. Shrewsberry, ND 1 Nada NA
D. Stoudamire, GT 1 Nada NA