When you think about ACC basketball this season, it really will be a remarkable collection of coaches and talent.
As the landscape of major college sports has changed over the past decade because of football’s influence on conference realignment, the ACC has managed to remain relevant as a football conference while also putting together a group of schools that have had amazing basketball success.
Andrew Carter of the News & Observer wrote a great article that focused on the four Hall-of-Famers (Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino & Roy Williams) who will battle against each other for the first time in conference play this year, but it’s not just about the power at the top of the coaching ladder in this league.
Sure – it’s unprecedented to have one league with four individuals who’ve already accomplished so much. But the ACC has also significantly improved its coaching depth over the past few years.
That’s what you get when your league is a basketball power.
Athletic directors know they can’t afford to give a coach with questionable ability lots of time to figure things out because it’s so difficult to keep up in the ACC.
Look around the conference this season. It’s been quite a while since the ACC had such quality coaching from top-to-bottom.
With the exception of Brian Gregory at Georgia Tech, there doesn’t appear to be an ACC coach near the hot seat as we enter this season. And if Gregory struggles this year, the Yellow Jackets will likely be looking to upgrade in a way similar to what we saw from Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Boston College this past offseason.
Personally, I think Notre Dame could upgrade over Mike Brey, but that’s a discussion for another day – and something I’ve hinted at previously.
While Coach K, Boeheim, Pitino and Williams are all fantastic, I don’t think the other coaches in the league get enough credit for what they’ve done. Some might call them the second tier – but even that hints at disrespect for a group that isn’t taking a backseat to anyone.
Know the last three guys to win the ACC Tournament?
That’d be Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, Miami’s Jim Larranaga, and Virginia’s Tony Bennett.
Those three have all proven themselves to be outstanding coaches.
Along with them, N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon and Clemson’s Brad Brownell are great at maximizing the most out of a roster and surprising people with consistent teams.
And aside from the questions at Boston College because we don’t know too much about Jim Christian, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest were praised around the country for their ability to bring in Buzz Williams and Danny Manning to begin turning those programs around.
The future of ACC basketball is very bright.
The Hall-of-Famers will grab the headlines, but it’s also a great group of coaches trying to knock those Hall-of-Famers off the top of the mountain.