They thought they had more time.
Fans of multiple ACC programs knew they had hotshot coaches who would prompt speculation about other jobs this offseason. Once a big-time job such as LSU opened up and the domino effect began, they knew they’d have to worry and wonder if their coach might be there next season.
They just thought maybe the Halloween decorations might be put away before the coaching carousel became as big a part of the news cycle as the push for an ACC championship.
But alas, Florida State Seminoles, you’ll be hearing for the next few months about the possibility of Jimbo Fisher going back to LSU, where he made a name for himself as an assistant before winning a national title for FSU.
But suppose Fisher (and Houston’s Tom Herman) decides he has a good thing going where he’s at. Well, wouldn’t North Carolina’s Larry Fedora, a former Southern Miss coach, make sense?
Sorry, Tar Heels, I know it’s not what you want to hear just when Fedora is making it possible to let go of the bitterness left when Mack Brown left Chapel Hill for Texas 19 years ago.
Or how about Duke’s David Cutcliffe? His SEC ties run deep and LSU athletic director Joe Alleva was once his boss in Durham. Louisville’s Bobby Petrino never stays anywhere long. Could he use Lamar Jackson madness as a springboard to one of the nation’s elite jobs?
Thanks a lot, LSU. The ACC once again has multiple national championship and Heisman Trophy contenders. Its coaching ranks got stronger and deeper in an offseason that saw Mark Richt, Justin Fuente and Bronco Mendenhall join the league. But now it’s still September and even a struggling SEC team is stealing the spotlight while potentially damaging morale and recruiting for multiple ACC contenders.
There’s not a lot anyone can do about it, but it’s certainly a shame when the coaches’ free agent market begins to overshadow what’s happening on the field. And it seems like this process begins earlier and earlier each year.
LSU wasn’t even the first team to get rid of a head coach this season when it axed Les Miles after a 2-2 start. Florida International actually beat the Tigers to the punch with the firing of Ron Turner. The FIU opening means other ACC teams aren’t entirely immune from this insanity.
No, an ACC head coach isn’t going to leave a secure job for FIU, but multiple league assistants could be in the mix. Miami will be sending offensive coordinator James Coley and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz out to recruit this fall, all the while rival staffs will likely be planting the idea either could take the FIU job this winter.
It all makes it tough for the ACC to ever gain the reputation of a true football conference. The league will feature a top-five match up when Louisville and Clemson play this weekend. The winner will be on an inside track to the College Football Playoff, but it will likely be tough to make it through the broadcast without hearing some reference to the coaches potentially jumping to the SEC someday (Did you know Dabo Swinney played at Alabama? Of course you did.)
There’s potential for 2016 to be an epic, banner year for ACC football. Let’s just hope that as more coaches get fired this fall, at least some of the focus can fix on what these teams are doing on the field.