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Hot Seats Abound in the ACC Coastal

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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Four coaches in the ACC Coastal Division are squarely on the hot seat heading into the 2015 season.

There has perhaps been no one division in all of college football more unpredictable over the last few seasons than the ACC Coastal Division.

From week to week, it has been virtually impossible to predict the outcomes of games, as so many teams have remained alive in the quest to represent the division in the ACC Championship Game.

As a byproduct of all of that parity, the programs that have fortunate enough to win the division – Duke and Georgia Tech – find themselves resting comfortably with the security of knowing that there is stability in the program.

For a number of the teams in the division, however, there is plenty of uncertainty heading into the 2015 campaign.

Here is a look at the four Coastal Division coaches who are on the hot seat heading into the fall, ranked from the least extreme case to the most extreme case.

4. Frank Beamer – Virginia Tech

In terms of overall coaching resume, there are few coaches in the country that can even come close to holding a candle to what Beamer has been able to accomplish at Virginia Tech alone. Taking over a Virginia Tech program with very little history of winning on the gridiron in 1987, Beamer quickly led the Hokies on the progression to becoming a perennial power nationally. Beginning with the program’s first season in the ACC in 2004, Beamer led the Hokies to eight consecutive seasons of ten or more victories. Unfortunately for Beamer, that lengthy string of success has potentially created unrealistic expectations for sustained results. The Hokies have gone 7-6, 8-5 and 7-6 over the past three seasons, causing many fans to become agitated. Many people have commented that it appears Beamer could be heading towards a “Bobby Bowden situation”, where a decrease in success after decades of high-level contention could lead to a legendary coach being forced to exit. While such a departure would undoubtedly be a travesty, that can often be the unfortunate result in college football’s “what have you done lately” landscape.

3. Larry Fedora – North Carolina

Many of the talking points around Fedora are strikingly similar to the ones that were said about Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson prior to the start of the 2014 campaign. The Tar Heel head man has a strong reputation as a brilliant offensive mind, as North Carolina has finished in the top half of the conference in total offense and scoring offense in all three of his seasons in Chapel Hill. But even though his background is undeniably cemented on the offensive side of the football, the ultimate responsibility for inefficiencies within the program will always fall back on the head coach. North Carolina’s defense has been downright awful since Fedora came to the school in 2012. That lack of defensive production has led the Tar Heels to underachieve in comparison to what many experts thought the team should have been able to accomplish. After winning eight games in his first season at the school, The Tar Heels have won seven and six games, respectively, the last couple of seasons. With the manner in which Fedora has recruited, the Tar Heels should have been able to seriously contend in the Coastal Division by this point. Fedora will certainly be hopeful that the hire of Gene Chizik as defensive coordinator will fix the program’s defensive woes.

2. Al Golden – Miami

There is no denying that Golden has had to deal with a handful of legitimate issues which have made it more difficult to attain success. Included in that list of issues would be his inheritance of a less than ideal situation from Randy Shannon, NCAA sanctions which reduced his total allotment of scholarships and a difficult schedule. Even so, at the University of Miami, success is expected regardless of the circumstances surrounding the program. The Hurricanes are now far enough removed from the NCAA sanctions where scholarship issues should no longer be a concern. And considering the fact that Miami has continued to be an elite recruiting program in the conference, lack of talent is not an issue either. His modest success in his first couple of seasons was certainly excusable, but the fact that the Hurricanes finished with a losing record in 2014 is hard to fathom. The players seem to like Golden, and he has done a very nice job on the recruiting trail, but Miami fans have grown very impatient with the fact that Miami still has yet to win the Coastal Division after eleven seasons in the league. He might not need to necessarily win the division next season to retain his job, but Golden undoubtedly must do much better than he did last fall.

1. Mike London – Virginia

Looking at London’s track record at Virginia, it is honestly quite amazing that he has managed to keep his job as long as he has. In his five seasons in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers have won more than four games only once, while having finished last in the Coastal Division four times. It looked like London finally had the Cavaliers ready to get over the hump after a 4-2 start, which included a win over a ranked Louisville squad, in 2014. The hot beginning to the campaign would come to an abrupt end, though, as Virginia would win just one contest the remainder of the way to once again fall short of bowl eligibility. To this point, London’s lone saving grace has been his ability to recruit high-level prospects to the program. In many ways, however, that makes the fact that Virginia has not been able to consistently win even more perplexing. London has already dodged a couple of bullets with the Virginia athletic administration following subpar seasons, and he can rest assured that he would not be so fortunate if 2015 were to end in similar fashion. He needs to do more than show that his team is capable of competing; he needs to start winning games immediately.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.